Tardy Room Blues

Being late for class can be a drag. And for years it was also a bore. At schools like Roosevelt and Garfield High schools, students who walked in after the bell, whether one or 15 minutes late, were sent to the dreaded tardy room, a place where they just sat, and sat, and sat for the rest of the period. 

But at Roosevelt High School last year, thanks to the initiative of United Students, a collective backed by Inner City Struggle (a non-profit community organization in East L.A.), students successfully worked with school administrators to change the tardy room policy. 

Now, students are allowed to go on to class if they are late once or twice. But after that, there are consequences that include meeting with staff to help identify why the students were late and to help them better manage their time in the future. Parents are also brought into the process and, of course, staying after school for being chronically late is still a consequence. 

At Garfield, which is currently experiencing a leadership vacuum at the principal level, a United Students coalition is trying to improve the school’s tardy policy. 
Vanessa Garcia and Maria Salcedo, members of United Students at Garfield, have been working on the problem. They helped complete a survey of 826 fellow students, which identified that almost half of students have ditched school at least once to avoid going to the tardy room. 

They said Garfield isn’t currently implementing the tardy room, but is has yet to adopt a proactive policy that doesn’t keep students from missing class time unnecessarily. Their proposal, which they are pushing school administrators to consider, is based on the Roosevelt’s policy – one that doesn’t punish late students for the sake of punishment, but rather creates an opportunity to help students improve their behavior.

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