FHS creates new tutorial detention policy


Graphics by Madelyn Nguyen

At the start of the second semester of the 2022-23 school year, FHS implemented a new detention policy in an effort to promote tutorial attendance among students. Under this policy, students who fail to check into tutorials will be subject to detention. 

Tutorial, previously known as Flex Time, is a class period that provides students with the opportunity to meet with teachers and other staff during the school day. During its initial implementation, tutorial was 45 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedules, but after the mandatory schedule change this year tutorial is now for 25 minutes on Mondays, and for 40 minutes on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

“The purpose of tutorial is to have help in the day from your teachers, and to have access to any teacher that you want,” FHS Dean Sarah Michelet said. “It’s not assigned, you as a student get to choose where you want to go. You don’t necessarily have to be in a classroom per se, but you do have to be somewhere and you have to be checked in. Those are the things that we had talked about as a staff when we rolled out the tutorial [detention] process.”

During tutorials, all students are required to be in a classroom or another space used for tutorial, as attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to be engaged in academic work the entire period. In the FUHSD, only FHS and Homestead High School require students to check in, and only FHS issues out detentions for missing tutorials. Some members of the FHS community feel that this might be unfair to single out students from one school. 

“I think it becomes an issue when we’re doing things like detention because then it becomes an equity issue if we’re the only school in the district who’s requiring attendance,” FHS math teacher Micaela Kaye said. “We’re also then giving detentions for it. That’s not equitable across the district.”

Although the bell schedule is now the same across the district, other FUHSD schools mandate tutorials differently. Lynbrook High School and Monta Vista High School do not require students to be in classrooms during tutorial, and students are free to roam campus, play sports or study outside. Cupertino High School, HHS and FHS all have students in classrooms during tutorial, but CHS does not require students to scan into classrooms. 

“Other sites have a different way of how they approach tutorials, so if not everybody is doing the same thing, it’s hard to compare,” Michelet said.

According to the FHS administration, before the implementation of their new policy FHS had a concerning amount of students who did not attend tutorial, instead participating in other non academic activities. 

“Last year when I was a teacher here, we had a lot of students roaming around during Flex Time, so they weren’t checked in anywhere, or they had checked in and left, or they were hanging out in the bathrooms.” Michelet said. “We started looking at the number of absences per tutorial, and at the end of first semester, there were like 300 kids each tutorial that were not checking in, which is a concerning number.”

As the weeks have passed with the new detention policy, administration noticed that the absences in tutorial are significantly lower, showing the success of the new policy. 

“We had an average of 300 [student absences in tutorial] before we started this, and the first week that [detention was implemented], it dropped to under 100,” Michelet said. “So detention has been an effective process, since looking at the numbers, it’s a huge jump.”

Michelet stated that administration did not anticipate the number of students that were in classrooms, but just were not checking in. This means that the number of students not attending tutorial may have been a smaller amount of students than calculated. If students forgot or for any reason did not check in to their tutorial class they would be marked absent and given detention because there was no way to tell that they had actually attended. 

“I think one of the biggest things that happened while implementing this policy was that we found a lot of kids were not checking in, like they were going to classes but they weren’t physically checking in,” Michelet said. “I know there were a lot of students frustrated with that, but now they are starting to check in.”

FHS senior Arushi Gupta received notice of a mandatory after-school detention after forgetting to check into a tutorial once at school. 

“It was pretty pointless because it was a Monday tutorial and it made no sense to have detention for skipping a twenty-five minute period in which I would have anyways just been on my phone for,” Gupta said. “I think the detentions just annoy students but don’t actually prevent skipping, so I don’t think it’s encouraging any good behavior.”

 The detention policy has elicited mixed reactions from both the student body and staff. Now that checking into classes has a consequence, students who regularly go to tutorials have to be more careful when checking in.

“When students forget to sign in, it causes a lot of anxiety when they get that detention slip,” Kaye said. “There’s a lot of follow up, and it’s pretty harmful for a student who doesn’t actually deserve to go to detention.”

The detention policy seems to be a constant in future school years. Improvements will continue to happen, but FHS administration is working towards maximum tutorial attendance.

“Tutorials are here to provide students support, so if you aren’t going, then it’s negatively impacting you as a student because that’s the time that you have built into the day to get help,” Michelet said. “I’m hoping that students realize that tutorials aren’t horrible; it’s a place to get support from teachers. That’s really the ultimate goal, we want students in tutorials because we want them to access the help.”