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LUHS Board of Education considers options for monitoring student fines

August 30, 2019 by Kayla Houp

The Lakeland Union High School Board of Education heard a general report from principal Justin Szews at its meeting Monday.

One item in particular considered potentially implementing a plan for monitoring student fines and ensuring the fines are paid.

“Here we have a situation that we’re working with and it’s an ongoing issue,” Szews said.

According to Szews, a report which had recently been run indicated there was approximately $6,200 the school was owed in student fines.

“A multi-level system of support is what I’m going to propose,” Szews said. “The first level is specific to whatever fines are in.”

Szews said a lot of the fines were sports related, and if a student didn’t have their athletic equipment turned in, they wouldn’t get the equipment for the next sport they participated in.

Similarly, if a student has outstanding fines off-campus extracurricular activities or class trips, they won’t be allowed to participate in other off-campus trips.

“Those are the first layers of steps we can put in place, and those, quite frankly, that’s not enforced, that’s not done right now, currently,” Szews said. “It will be moving forward.”

He mentioned the school knew, through data, that about 77% to 80% of Infinite Campus accounts get logged into by parents or guardians.

“Well, right of the top there’s 33%, a little less than 30%, aren’t getting their Infinite Campus notifications or aren’t getting access, even, to see what’s in Infinite Campus.”

Szews said the information was currently passive, and that a parent would have to log into their child’s Infinite Campus account and “go looking” in student fines.

What Szews said they were working on looking into was sending a notification out through Infinite Campus, much like how the school sends out notifications for school cancellations.

The third layer, which Szews said he wasn’t “dead certain on,” would be to withhold the ability to walk for graduation.

“That is out there as a possibility if the student’s fines aren’t paid at the tail end of the school year,” Szews said. 

While this might not be a deterrent for all students as some students choose not to walk at graduation anyway, Szews said it could be another “net” that might catch a few and incentivize them to pay their fines.

“And last, and certainly we hope not to have to go there, but as was suggested to us by other districts, what they’re doing when students don’t have fines paid and it’s a big chunk of money, is they do small claims court after the student graduates,” Szews said.

Szews said those were the “layers” that they’d tie up and put by the board prior to submitting them for administrative recommendations.

Family situations

While the board didn’t have many questions for Szews, one that was shared by two members of the board regarded family situations.

“Possibly, with looking at some students that their family situation, maybe just can’t afford that,” board member Jon Berg said. “There needs to be a mechanism of assessment of that.”

Szews said he agreed.

“I would tell you that, for a great majority of the folks on the list right now, that does not apply,” Szews said, stating they could apply a standard recognizing family situations “right off the top.”

Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]

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