Muskogee High School starts fining students for being late, missing class

    Muskogee High School starts fining students for being late, missing class (KTUL)

    MUSKOGEE, Okla. (KTUL) -- Students in Muskogee are paying a price for skipping class. The high school is now implementing the state law that fines students for being late or not showing up.

    Principal Kim Fleak said they've raised expectations for their students moving forward, but kids and their parents, who are most likely paying the fine, say it's out of line.

    "There's no way that I could afford a $250 fine," said Johanna Hondy, whose daughter goes to the high school. "I don't know anyone in this town who can afford that really."

    Fleak said it's a way to make sure kids are in class.

    She said being late, also referred to as a partial absence, or missing class four times in four weeks could now cost you.

    "We had some attendance issues. So, this is one of those ways that we're trying to combat," explained Fleak. "It's important to us that these kids are in school, in the class, receiving that instruction and having that time with teachers in seats."

    Fleak said the district is using the fines to keep students, parents and the school accountable.

    Tenth grader Abigail Cochran said she's not worried about the unexcused absence aspect but said getting from one class to another in five minutes is a challenge.

    "People are going to be late. Going from one side of the campus to the other," said Cochran.

    She said her and some classmates have started petitions that now have more than 400 signatures.

    They hope to change the punishment for missing the bell.

    "We should have something like detention, something kids should have," said Cochran.

    Fleak said she wants to emphasize that these fines are set by the state, not the school, and it's all in the best interest of the kids, but Cochran said that's just not the case.

    "There are people wanting to drop out of school because of this, because they know they can't pay these fines," said Cochran.

    Fleak said she plans to address the students about this issue Friday or Monday.

    Cochran said if her petition goes unheard, her classmates are planning a walkout Sept. 13.

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