Saturday detention planned at school

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By Don Pace

Oh, no, not Saturday school!

Yes, it’s official. West Las Vegas Middle School students will now be required to attend school on Saturday for discipline purposes.

The school may not be all that bad. Remember the 1985 John Hughes classic, “Breakfast Club” where five students meet in Saturday detention and discover they have more in common than they thought?

Principal Steve Sandoval told the school board last week that sometimes noon detention is not sufficient.

“At the end of last year, we had a student who had 48 days of noon detention, but we only had 35 days of school remaining,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said the only other disciplinary measure available is out of school suspension.

“That means kids are out of school and not in class, which ultimately hurts us in multiple ways. They are not getting instruction, they are marked absent, and one of the 37 components in meeting AYP (federal standard) at middle school is attendance. So out-of-school suspension should be our last resort,” Sandoval said.

He told the board that he and his staff talked to Roswell’s Goddard High School, which has a Saturday program in place.  

“We tweaked their policy and came up with something that I think will work for us,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said he surveyed his staff: 20 supported the idea, none were against it, and eight did not return the survey form.

“We went a step further and surveyed parents during registration day. Out of 246 parents, 168 supported Saturday detention, 57 did not support the idea, and 21 did not vote either way,” Sandoval said. “I think we had overwhelming support.”

Sandoval said after a student receives six noon detentions, the penalty increases to the dreaded Saturday school setting. He said because there are two administrative interns employed at West — one at Valley School and other at the middle school — there would be no cost to the district for a Saturday School coordinator that would supervise the students.

Sandoval said students would attend Saturday classes from 8 a.m. to noon and would be expected to bring in assignments to work on.

“This is not a place where they will come in to chill for four hours. They have to bring their homework, and it will be a time where they can catch up on work. If they do not bring enough work, or no work at all, they will be assigned campus cleanup,” Sandoval said.

The principal said sometimes detention does not have an impact until it starts to cut into students’ personal time.

“When I was a kid, Saturday mornings were for sleep and cartoons, so taking that away may have more impact,” Sandoval said.

School board member Gary Gold asked Sandoval what happens if a student doesn’t show up.

Sandoval said no-shows will receive three days out-of-school suspension.