Interactive system

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 10, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Instead of waiting for the end of a nine-week grading period to come around to check their progress in school, parents of Demopolis High School students can now get instant access to grades, attendance and other information with a new online system.

According to principal Dr. Isaac Espy, the school will use a system called STI Home, which will allow parents access to up-to-date information. Espy said the school has been looking at developing this online capability for some time and has even gotten inquiries about it from parents within the last year. With the help of some funds from the PASS grant awarded by the state department of education, the school will finally be able to utilize the system&8217;s interactive potential.

In September, the school system was awarded $50,000 to implement dropout prevention programs. In addition to checking grades in students&8217; classes &8212; which will be updated each Friday by 5 p.m. &8212; the system can be used to track absences. Espy said increased absenteeism is a problem the school is always trying to work on.

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According to Espy, students are given student handbooks and student plan books each year that outline what constitutes an excused absence, which includes: illness of student, death in immediate family, inclement weather, legal quarantine, emergency conditions as determined by principal and prior permission by the principal.

After five days, students are sent a letter reminding them and their parents of attendance policies. After 10 unexcused absences from school, students may not receive credit for course work. Espy said he hopes this new system will curb some students&8217; absenteeism.

William Martin, who teaches computer courses at DHS, said the new system is going to be a good tool in opening up communication between the school and the home.

Other added features Martin is particularly excited about are the calendar, which can be accessed on the same system as the grades and absences, and teacher lesson plans and assignments that parents can check on to help students stay on track.

In upcoming days, parents will receive information in the mail from the school about STI Home. Parents will log on to a Web site, and use their child&8217;s social security number and a personal identification number to access information.