By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
Getting to Vandegrift High School before the first tardy bell rings can be a challenge with the congested Four Points roads but official tardy slips reflect that students are getting to school on time.
An open records request submitted by Four Points News revealed the total number of tardies per school year for the last three years. According to Leander ISD, there were a total of 1,801 first-period tardy slips issued during the 2011-12 school year, which averaged to 10 tardies per day, based on a 180-day school year. That number jumped to 12.6 first-period tardies per day for the 2012-13 school year and then decreased slightly during the 2013-14 year, with 12.3 first-period tardy slips issued per day.
For each of the three years, there were actually more tardy slips issued for students returning late from their lunch period.
LISD spokesperson Veronica Sopher said she does not feel VHS’s numbers are out of line with district averages.
“The impression that I’ve gotten from that campus is that their tardies are not out of line with other campuses and they are below the national average,” Sopher said. “They’re mindful of it and want to see it improve and are working with parents to make sure their students are getting to school on time and in a safe manner.”
In the event that a school bus arrives late to school, those students who rode the bus are not issued tardy slips.
“When a bus is late the students are not issued tardies – they report directly to class,” said Kimberly Billeaud, public information officer for LISD.
Busses arriving late to VHS frustrated some parents during the first few days of classes.Some parents used social media outlets to vent about traffic delays causing their students to be late.
One local resident posted to the Steiner Ranch social page, “So on this second day of school as buses sit in traffic again, probably going to be late again. There needs to be an express lane for buses to get to VHS on time.”
VHS parent Anja Seth said her sophomore daughter rode the bus the first two days of school and was also late.
“The bus was late, but that was inevitable,” Seth said. “The first two days of school are crazy.”
It’s not unusual for the district to tweak bus routes in the first few days and weeks of school, according to Sopher.
“It’s not uncommon, especially in a fast-growth district,” Sopher said. “You’ve got 1,000 new students in your system. Those first few weeks you’re always evaluating your routes and their efficiencies. It’s not uncommon for us to make those kinds of changes the first few weeks of school.”
Seth said on mornings when she drives her daughter to school for early band practice, they leave their home between 7 a.m. and 7:10 a.m. and it takes her around 20-25 minutes. She said if she leaves her home after 7:40 a.m., it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.
Despite the increased traffic, she doesn’t think parents and students can use it as an excuse for being late.
“I wouldn’t blame traffic for kids being late to school,” Seth said. “I would blame them leaving home too late. If you leave at 8:30, of course you’re going to be late.”
Seth said traffic would also be better if drivers would stay off their phones.
“If parents would stay off their cell phones and not text at the traffic light,” she said. “When the light turns green, more cars could go through if parents weren’t finishing their text or email. I have seen parents on their I-Pad going to Amazon.”
Sopher said the district does not closely analyze the reasons why students come to school late.
“We haven’t seen critical numbers in this district to indicate a systemic problem,” Sopher said. “We try to communicate to our parents the value of being at school on time, ready to learn and being prepared. That message has never changed and we’ll continue to make sure parents understand it’s important for students to not miss instruction time.”