Friday, September 2, 2016

Terese Jurgensen ~ Director of Student Services ~ September 2nd, 2016

Positive Behavior Intervention Supports  
For the past several days, our PBIS team, led by guidance counselor, Tiffany McCabe, has had all students grades TK-6 review and practice the school expectations in our common areas of hallways, restrooms, cafeteria, area in front of the school, and of course, playground. Expectations for these areas need to be taught because these are not found in a home where dozens of other students are occupying them. Sometimes, parents may remark when a child struggles in one of these areas that "my child never acts like this at home." My response is always, "school environments are so much different than home environments." At least in my home, my children didn't need to walk on the right side of the hallway in single file in order to keep traffic flow safe and orderly. It makes me laugh to think of this happening! Therefore, it is so important to teach and practice Cadet Pride Expectations. PBIS is a statewide initiative and one of the healthy indicators for Iowa Schools. 
In fact the Iowa Department of Education states all schools in Iowa will implement a sustainable, multi-tiered system of support focusing on safe, healthy, and caring learning environments that include well defined systems, practices, and data at each tier, resulting in improved behavioral and academic outcomes. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a multi-tiered continuum of supports for all students in the school environment. Supported by the Iowa Department of Education, PBIS provides schools with the framework and organizational plan to promote and maximize academic achievement and behavioral competence for all students.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs Technical Assistance Center on PBIS indicates there are 21,278 schools implementing PBIS in the United States and other countries including Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, and Canada. Since 2002, PBIS has continued to grow in Iowa. Currently, more than 550 schools are implementing PBIS in 107 districts around the state.
All of our students were excellent during these sessions, above I am shown going over the cafeteria expectations. I led the students in a cheer during each teaching session. Check and see if they remember it. It goes, "I'm Respectful, I'm Responsible, I'm Trustworthy and I'm Caring! That's Cadet Pride!"

 Elementary Attendance Policy


“A school district's primary obligation is the education of its students.”
“School districts may define by policy what are excused and unexcused absences. The
determination of whether an absence is excused is made by the school, not by the parent.”
(In re Donald and Katherine Blaess, 4 D.P.I. App. Dec. 118 (1985).

The Howard Winneshiek Community School District believes in positive school attendance,
knowing that attending school has a huge impact on a student’s academic success starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school. Parents/Caregivers/Guardians play a key role in making sure students get to school safely every day and understand why attendance is so important for success in school and on the job. Research proves that if a student is not in school (excused or unexcused), these absences have a major impact on their educational progress.

● Starting in kindergarten and through 3rd grade, if a student is absent from school (excused or unexcused) more than 9 days per semester, it greatly affects their ability to learn to read.

● By 6th grade, absenteeism is 1 of 3 signs that a student may drop out of high school.

Compulsory Attendance Law; Excerpt 299.1, 299.2
It is the responsibility of parents/caregivers/guardians to get their child(ren) safely to school each day. Parents within the school district who have children over age 5 and under age 16 by September 15th, in proper physical and mental condition to attend school, will have the children attend the school district at the attendance center designated by the school board. Students will attend school the number of days school is in session in accordance with the school calendar. Students of compulsory attendance age will attend school a minimum of 170 days. This number was set previously by the school board. Students not attending the minimum days must be exempted by this policy as listed below or referred to the county attorney. 

It is the responsibility of the parent of a child to provide evidence of the child’s mental and
physical inability to attend school or of the child’s qualifications for one of the exceptions listed above. The administration will investigate the cause for a student’s truancy. If the administration is unable to secure the truant student’s attendance, the administration should discuss the next step with the school board. If after school board action the student is still truant, the administration will refer the matter to the Howard County Attorney.

Parents'/Caregivers'/Guardians' Responsibility:

Parents/Caregivers/Guardians are encouraged to call prior to 8:00 a.m. to report absences. It is the responsibility of the parent to notify the student’s attendance center as soon as the parent knows the student will not be attending school on that day. Parents are encouraged to call the school each day if their child is going to be absent or tardy. If parents do not call, the school will attempt to contact the parents. We do have an answering machine on at all hours to take messages. The HWCSD administration may request evidence or written verification of the student’s reason for absence.

Student Absences ­ Excused School Board: Code No. 501.9 Regular attendance by students is essential to obtain the maximum opportunities from the education program. Parents and students alike are encouraged to ensure an absence from school is a necessary absence. Students will attend school unless excused by the administration of their attendance. Student absences approved by the administration are excused absences. Excused absences will count as days in attendance for purposes of the truancy law. The school reserves the 
right to determine whether an absence is excused or unexcused. Therefore, all absences, including excessive excused absences may be reviewed for legitimacy.

Administrators serve as Truancy Officers. The building administration, guidance counselors,

Success Team members, school nurse, family case manager and/or other community human resource personnel may receive referrals of students who have an unusually high rate of absenteeism, including excessive morning absences/tardies. Students with questionable attendance records may also be referred to civil authorities. The Howard County Attorney may be notified for extensive unexcused absences. 

If a student is absent over half of the morning or half of the afternoon he/she is counted absent for that half day. These times for 1⁄2 day absent are as follows:

● Morning K­6; 1/2 day absent if arriving after/leaving before at 10:00 a.m.

● Afternoon K­6; 1/2 day absent if leaving before/arriving after 2:00 p.m.

Excused Absences:

● Student Illness​­ after 3 days, a doctor’s note must accompany the child upon return to
the school district. If obtaining a doctor’s note is a financial hardship, the family may
bring their child to school and the school nurse will do a well-­child check.

● Doctor Visits ­ ​(Dentist, Orthodontist, Chiropractor, etc.) Documentation of all doctor visits must accompany the student upon return to the school district for it to be considered as an excused absence.

Legal Obligations​­:To be counted as an excused absence, a building administrator must be notified to verify the absence as excused.

Family Emergencies: ​­ To be counted as an excused absence, a building administrator must be notified to verify the absence as excused.

● Recognized Religious Observances

● Bereavement/Funerals

● Family activities/vacations​­:A parent conference with the administration prior to activity/vacation is required for excused absence.

Unexcused Absences include, but are not limited to:

● Truancy 

● Haircuts

● Hunting

● Manicures

● Need to Rest/Sleeping In

● Tanning

● Concerts

● Department of Transportation visits

● Personal Business without explanation/documentation

● Leaving school to eat lunch

● Preparation or participation in parties or other celebrations

● Absences (those with no parent contact) by the end of that same school day, will be

counted as unexcused.

● Parents reporting, “My son/daughter will not be in school today,” or other ambiguous


As the Director of Student Services, attendance is one of my primary responsibilities and, I dare say, a personal passion of mine. I have had the honor of wearing this hat in other school districts as well, and nothing is more satisfying than seeing a student, led by their parent/caregiver, improve their daily attendance. When students don't come to school on a regular basis, a great deal of anxiety occurs for them as other students may inquire where they have been. They fall behind in their daily work and actually begin to feel that they don't fit in. Nothing could be further from the truth!  We want our students in school! Our policy, as mandated by the state, is focused on Unexcused Absences. Unexcused Absences are much different than chronic, ongoing attendance issues.  Here is an interesting fact:

This school year, we will also work hard to communicate with parents regarding our revised updated Attendance Policy and will be sending out letters at 5, 8, and 10 unexcused absences each semester. We will also be featuring our students quarterly in our local newspapers and social media posts who have Outstanding and Perfect Attendance!  At Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools:

Looking Forward to A Great Labor Day Weekend! 
Hoping to see you all at the Football Game Friday Night!

I had a great time visiting with our football cheerleaders this week while they painted inspirational posters for the first home football game against Decorah!

Good luck to all of our fall athletes--cross-Country, volleyball and football!


Cross Country Results 9/1/16
Last night the Crestwood high school cross country teams competed at Charles City. They ran 9-10 grades together and 11-12 grades together.  The Cadets competed very well!  Individual race champs were Nathan Martinek and Ellie Friesen.  Michael Mashek was a runner-up and Hope Dohlman was third.  Other medalists were Mattie Slavin, Sarah Mashek, Rachel Steffen, Libby Labosky, Kaden Anderlik, Blake Murphy, Bryden Juelsgaard, Lucas McGee, Harry Kitchen, Emily Friesen, Sami Bigalk, Madison Fitzgerald, Dylan Johnson, Joey Labosky, and Ryan Steffen.  The Cadets next compete at Waverly.  Nice Work, Cadets!

Here is a little girl who always makes our day!

                                                     Max Garcia - 
                                             Holocaust Survivor
To the left is Max Garcia, the father of Michelle Garcia, winner, and author of Social Thinking, the social-emotional strategies we use here at Howard-Winn. I met Max this summer at the Social Thinking Conference and bought his book, "Auschwitz, Auschwitz...I Cannot Forget You" 

Mr. Garcia's story and his life is both unforgettable and unreal. We sat for several hours discussing what it was like to spend several years in a total of 4 different concentration camps. It is a story that must be told and in Max's words, "I am a missionary! Our future generations must know the truth, so it is not repeated!" 

I am excited to announce that Howard-Winneshiek CSD is partnering with the Howard Winneshiek School Foundation and the National Historical Society to bring Max Garcia to Cresco on Tuesday, September 27th to share his story with our students and also to present to the community at the Cresco Theater from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Copies of Max's book will be sold at the theater that evening, and he will sign every copy. If you would like to get a copy of Max's book before the event, you may email me, Terese Jurgensen, or call me at (563) 929-6344. I have 50 copies available, and I know they will go quickly. They cost $20, and I promise you, it will be a book that you will not be able to put down! 

Have a great week-end!!!

Happy Labor Day!

Please do not hesitate to reach me, 
Terese Jurgensen at
(563) 929-6344

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