Hammonton High School Lateness Policy: Is it fair?


If a perfect student has had perfect attendance his entire high school career, then misses the cut to homeroom by a matter of seconds, they receive a 40-minute detention.

According to the HHS Parent/Student Handbook, if a student arrives by 8:27 am he/she will be assigned a detention. However, the HHS policy is inconsistent in giving them out. Some students say they receive one every time they’re late, while others say they’ve been late and never received one.

Sophomore Liliana Mejia said that she has 25 unexcused lateness, as of last April 12th, and recalls receiving detention for almost all of them. However, that is quite the opposite for Sophmore Julian Mountain. Mountain said that he has 20 unexcused absences, and only received detention around 12 times.

Not only is the consistency of the policy unfair, but the punishment of it is as well. Yes, if students are constantly tardy, then maybe a 40-minute detention would be a fair punishment. However, if a student comes in a couple of minutes after the bell rings because they had to stop for gas, a 45-minute detention wouldn’t be right.

Five years ago, The Devil’s Advocate published the story “Lateness policy prompts more questions than Answers” which talked about multiple of the same issues. The article explained the fact that schools are allowed to decide their own punishments for lateness, meaning Hammonton decided the detention policy on its own.

Another question the lateness policy prompts is if students are able to get a ride home. For students who live in Hammonton, there is no late bus that is available to come to pick them up. This could cause many students to skip detentions, making their punishment greater, even though it might not completely be their fault. For students who skip their detentions, the punishment is an in-school suspension for one period during the school day.

The handbook also states that if a student arrives between 8:27 a.m. and 11:43 a.m., he/she will be assigned detention and will only receive half-day credit. The 8:27 a.m. time seems very early for a “half-day.”

If a student arrives at school at 8:30 a.m. and is there for almost the entire school day, they are only considered to be there for half the day. The school day is 6 hours and 37 minutes long, and if a student arrives at 8:30, they would still be in school for 5 hours and 37 minutes. The student would be at school for almost 85% of the day, yet it will go down on the student’s record as them only being in school for half the day.

We reached out to Vice Principal Mr. Hinson, and HS Attendance Officer Mr. Ruiz via email for more information about how the 8:27 time was determined but did not hear back at the time of press.