Toonies for… Tardy?

On Friday, Ms. Goldenberg announced a new late policy to a very surprised Garneau. She claimed that there would be a two-dollar fine if a student were caught late for first period, with the money raised going towards the Valley Park Go Green Cricket Field. She went on to say that once that goal was met, additional money would go towards anything else that needed fundraising. Questions of the legality of such a punishment were posed in my physics classroom.

An announcement on Monday revealed a slight change. Students who were late were given a detention after school, which they could “buy out” of, as alluded to by the Friday announcement. A Facebook status from SAC revealed that “Student Council has tried” but was unable to alter the decision.

Claims have been made that a student can be charged as a punishment provided the money goes towards a charitable cause. Since Valley Park’s cricket field is a “special purpose area” as defined by TDSB policies P021 and P047, fundraising for it is perfectly legal. I was, however, unable to find the policy that provided for donations as discipline, and Ms. Mazzaferro refused to comment on the issue entirely.

It is a good thing that something is being done about late arrivals. A student has a duty to do what they can to be on time for school. However, there are two important problems with this new rule. The first is the precedent that it sets: that it is acceptable for a student to “buy out” of a punishment. I’ve got about forty dollars on me. For five bucks, can I run around in the halls during class time? For a twenty, can I disrupt a staff meeting? How much would it cost to throw a Frisbee around inside? Oh, I already know I couldn’t afford that one.

My second objection is also my response to the comments of several of my friends. “Just don’t be late,” they say, and the policy will not affect you. Yes, in an ideal world, no one will be late. But in our world, even when people do what they can to avoid being late, people are late. When traffic is bad due to accidents, students on the bus can be late. Even the physics teacher who preaches punctuality is late for class when things he cannot control inconvenience him. But it’s okay to be late once in a while just like it’s okay to get sick and stay home. There should be punishment for students who make being late a habit, not for those who are unlucky once.

My grade ten math teacher had a wonderful late policy. If you were late once, nothing happened, but at three lates your parents would be called and at five you would get a detention. Or something like that; I can’t remember because I wasn’t late enough times that semester to find out. But I was definitely late at least once. And if I were to be late a few more times, I wouldn’t have had the option to pay money instead of that phone call home.

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