There is much to be concerned about in regards to this pattern of absences, but one thing stands out above all the rest: If any person, in any field was present for only half the required time, that person would not be allowed to continue whatever it was they were doing. If it was a job, they'd be fired. If it was a college course, they'd be dropped. However, when it turns out to be a public school attendance record, absolutely nothing is done. Moreover, when this student fails (which is, in fact, inevitable; no student would be able to muster more than a failing grade when missing literally half the class, not even a student who gets 100% on every other assignment!) we are disallowed from holding this student back. Keep in mind, this is not an isolated event: this student is failing every class, and has for all semester, both semesters. And yet, APS is about to pass the buck on this student. Instead of forcing this student to repeat the term in hopes of acquiring the knowledge they missed out on this year, they will recommend the student repeat the grade, they will get overruled by the parent and the student will move on to 9th grade without having obtained any of the knowledge that they need for this year.
As a teacher, I can think of nothing more frustrating than dedicating my life to trying to help children, finding a child worth helping, trying to help them, and not being allowed to do so. If we're trying to teach the youth of tomorrow that education is truly important, then how can we allow this to happen? Either teachers are valuable people, whose opinions should be listened to and when we say that a student has failed every single class for both semesters, they should be held back, or we're lying when we say school matters. What incentive do kids have to try for decent grades when their classmates can show up half the time and fail, but pass on to the next grade with them regardless?
What can be done? I'm not sure. But I know it's a step in the wrong direction to allow students who fail to move on year after year. It has to change.
(This was something that I just started writing as an angry response to the fact that this student has been absent so much and it kind of took on a life of its own. I submitted it as a letter to the editor to my local paper, but I felt the need to vent a little more, so I'm putting it up here.)