Secretaries divulge truths of attendance lies

Tyler Dunlap

“Johnny has a sore throat.” “Marie has the flu.” “Timmy’s grandma died.”

Truths, excuses or half lies?

These are just the normal phone calls that Jan Fowler, Jenny Trom and Beth Ashworth yield on a daily basis. These dynamic women are the attendance secretaries of RBHS.

Students at RBHS often overlook these attendance ladies as a part of the school. Many students think they just sit behind a computer and talk on the end of a one-sided telephone conversation. They have so many more responsibilities, though. Every Thursday, Fowler writes reports to juvenile officers about students under the supervision of a juvenile officer about students’ attendance and disciplinary problems.

Excuses are probably one of the most mind-numbing frustrations within the attendance secretaries’ jobs. Every day they hear reasons why a student isn’t in school or can’t attend school that day. Sometimes, these excuses come from the student, sometimes from parents or guardians. Many students make up excuses to get out of class or to excuse a tardy, therefore the attendance ladies hear all the best lies. They range from simple lies like, “I slept in” to ones like, “The Jimmy John’s on this side of town was too busy, so I walked to the one downtown.”

No matter how ridiculous the lie is, the attendance secretary has a job to do, which is to make sure the student’s attendance record is accurate.

“I usually confront the student about the issue if I know he or she is lying,” Fowler said. “I want the students to know we’re not stupid. We weren’t born yesterday.”

Even though secretaries can sometimes call kids out, students get away with absurd stories simply because there is no punishment the attendance secretaries can enforce.

“One time I wanted to go to a friend’s house while she was on AUT, so I said that I left my folder at a friend’s house, and she drove me to go get it and her car broke down on the way back and we couldn’t get it jumped so we had to have her mom come get us,” junior Emily Holtmeyer said. “They definitely didn’t believe me, but they let me go anyway cause there was really nothing they could do about it.”

Trom and the other attendance secretaries also said they hear some ridiculous lies from not only students, but parents as well.

“If your parents know where you are, there really isn’t a whole lot we can do,” Fowler said. “It’s the parent’s prerogative to know where you’re at, and if they know you’re not at school then that’s up to them [the parents].”

When parents call in or excuse their kids, it’s a little bit different of a story. Some parents are known to call in for the kid as much as twice a week to excuse their student from school.

“Some kids can just convince their parents to excuse them and it’s like they have their parent on a leash or something,” Trom said.

Although some parents are easily persuaded by their irresponsible kids, the deception rarely fool the ones answering the phones in the RBHS attendance office.

“I usually know when the parents are lying for their kids,” Fowler said. “But it’s just not worth causing conflict by confronting them so I usually let it go.”

All of the attendance secretaries agree it is up to the parents to keep their kids in school. Often times, students seem to just skip school or get signed out for no reason.

“Sometimes we will see a student that has been excused by a parent walking around the hallways, and we’re like if you’re going to be at school you might as well be in class,” Trom said.

The same way students should be spending their time working hard in class, the attendance secretaries always have a list of things that need to be taken care of with intense work ethic. All of the secretaries agree that it is a demanding job, but they really enjoy doing it.

“I love building relationships with all the students at Rock Bridge, I hope they know that we all care about them,” Fowler said. “I just wish some of them could see the big picture in how important it is for you to be here.”

By Tyler Dunlap

Students share their best stories below. What are yours?

Photo by Maddy Jones
Photo by Maddy Jones
“It was a B day. I came in late during math, and I said that I was getting my hair cut.”
-Jeramiah Watson, sophomore
Photo by Paige Kiehl
Photo by Paige Kiehl
“[I say] I get confused when my AUTs are. Sometimes I just skip class to do my homework, oh the irony.”
-Maya Nolin-Clark, junior
Photo by Aniqa Rahman
Photo by Aniqa Rahman
“Once in elementary school, my mom called in and told the office that I wasn’t at school because our dog ran away.”
-Jacob Ventrillo, sophomore