Brookings students who miss too many days of school risk losing their driving privileges under a new policy being considered by the school district.

The Brookings-Harbor District 17-C School Board may pass a policy at its October 17 meeting that will allow the school district to suspend student drivers licenses for attendance problems.

Our occupation is to be a student. In the real world, if you have sex with a supervisor or something, your drivers license wouldnt be taken away, said Elaine Prevenas, a high school senior.

Driving is still a privilege especially for younger people and it depends on some accountability, said Dr. Paul Prevenas, Brookings-Harbor School District superintendent. The accountability we have for young people is attendance in school.

Parents and students can comment on this proposed policy at the next school board meeting. The meeting will be Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Azalea Middle School library.

The 1999 Oregon Legislature enacted a new law that allows a school district board to establish a policy that will let the superintendent or the board notify the Oregon Department of Transportation if a student withdraws from school.

A student is considered to have withdrawn from school if the student has more than 10 consecutive school days of unexcused absences or 15 school days total of unexcused absences during a single semester.

The student must be at least 15 years old and under 18 years old.

The policy under consideration states that upon receipt of the districts notice that a student has withdrawn from school, the Oregon Department of Transportation shall notify the student that driving privileges will be suspended on the 30th day following the date of the notice, unless the student presents documentation that complies with Oregon Revised Statute 807.066.

That statute states that a person who is under 18 years of age may not be issued driving privileges unless the person can prove he or she has graduated from high school, is working toward a GED, is being taught privately or is exempted from school attendance requirements.

The effective date of the legislation the policy is based on is Sept. 1, 2000. The Brookings-Harbor School Board had its first reading of the policy at its September meeting. The second reading will take place Oct. 17. A policy is generally passed after two readings, said Dr. Prevenas.

He added that the first reading went well and the assumption is that the policy will be approved.

In addition to attendance, the policy also lets the superintendent make a request to the Oregon Department of Transportation for the suspension of a students driving privilege or the right to apply for a driving privilege based on conduct.

The policy states that if a request is made, the following requirements will be met:

The superintendent will meet with a parent before submitting a request to Oregon Department of Transportation.

The request to the department will be in writing.

The student must be at least 15 years old.

The student has been expelled for bringing a weapon on school property or suspended or expelled at least twice for any of the following:

- assaulting or menacing a school employee or another student.

- willful damage or injury to district property

- use of threats, intimidation, harassment or coercion against a school employee or another student.

The request to suspend a students driving privilege or the right to apply for a driving privilege shall not be for more than one year unless the superintendent is filing a second written request. A second request may state suspension of privilege until the student reaches 21 years of age.

If a driving privilege is suspended, the student may apply to the department of transportation for a hardship permit.

Students also have a right to appeal the superintendents decision.

The conduct component has been available to schools for quite some time, said Dr. Prevenas. The attendance portion is new this year.

Seniors at the high school expressed some reservations about the policy.

I think some of these (behavior components) would fit, but I dont see how attendance fits, said Matt Dillenburg.

This is a punishment that doesnt fit the crime, he added.

Several students expressed concern that this policy would open the doors for the school district to take other privileges away.

I think it encroaches on our liberties. People depend on their drivers license for a lot more reasons than school, said Tosca Braun.

Dr. Prevenas said that this is not a punitive punishment, but rather one that he hopes will instill the importance of attending school.

We need to send a message loud and clear that school is important and coming to school is important, he said.

He said that the main use of this policy will be for attendance.

I cannot imagine the need to use the conduct part of the policy. Weve never used it to date, he said.

This is not meant to punish students, but to reinforce the message that for your own good, you need an education and to get that, you have to be in school.

There is some uncertainty about the length of license suspension with the attendance policy. Dr. Prevenas said he would check on that factor.

Weve got an excellent student body. 98.9 percent are really here every day to get something out of school. A few kids need a little more motivation, Dr. Prevenas said