Zero Tolerance for Zero Period


By: Karley Bailey and Nayeli Medina

Having gone to Tustin High for almost four years now, we seniors are accustomed  to the constantly changing campus and bell schedules. This constant change affects students temporarily, but eventually we adjust. Before these persistent transitions were found irrelevant, however this 2016-2017 school year has introduced a new conundrum into the premises. This year, new regulations have been set on zero period classes.

Having had a zero period, for three of my previous high school years, I know how valuable getting to school a mere 50 minutes earlier can be. Many students have a zero period because they have seven classes to fit into their chaotic schedule. Others obtain a zero period because they have six academic classes, as well as a sport. Then, there are those, such as Andrea Morales, who want a zero because getting out of school before 2:35pm, means having the capability of picking up their siblings from school, or having to avoid the dilemma of multiple trips for parents.

Tustin High’s new regulation on having a zero period, includes not permitting the advantage to students without a sport, or without seven academic classes. One of the most problematic issues, in this situation, has to do with the upperclassmen. Many juniors and seniors have after school jobs to attend to.Sacheen Premaratne tells us, “I usually have work around 3pm. Which leaves me only 25 minutes to get ready for work, and drive there too.” Having a job, being sixteen-seventeen years old means setting priorities straight.In a national survey, conducted by the National Center of Educational Statistics, results found that, “As students work, they achieve at lower levels academically, are more likely to engage in negative behaviors, have lower academic and career aspirations, and are less likely to hold leadership positions, [and] engage in extracurricular activities.” These problematic effects of a job are avoidable to some, but many are afflicted by financial struggles. There are various students on the Tustin High campus currently paying bills, while simultaneously managing multiple AP and Honors courses. There is no doubt that having a zero period, is an enormous advantage to people in these or similar circumstances. In retrospect, how are students supposed to be capable of time management when they have minimal time to do their homework?

In brutal honesty, not having a sixth period makes a crucial difference to a student’s daily life. Substantially, it permits a student the access to a free lunch, giving a grand one hour and thirty minutes of extra time. This is time which could be utilized for study sessions, homework, or for child care.The overly said cliche is very true, time is immensely valuable.

Tustin High’s grapevine buzzes with rumors of why the new regulations on zero period have been set. Each student has had their own separate theory. One of the most recycled theories, is that zero period’s restraint is due to the excessive amount of tardies. This theory has caused skepticality among students because of the implementation of the tardy sweeps which commenced last year.  Another theory is that the school is becoming more adherent to regulations which integrate the prospect of all students ending their school day at 2:30pm. Yet, the Center of Public Education states that a student is required to receive 175-180 days of learning each year; tallying up to a grand total of 900-1,000 hours of annual instructional education. Which draws us to a skeptical conclusion…would students ending their school day 55 minutes earlier damage their needed school hours, if their needed 55 minutes have been integrated earlier in the day?

In search for answers, we interviewed students, teachers, and counselors, discovering their own theories and experiences behind the zero period havoc.



Sergio Hernandez, a Senior with many AP and honor courses, did not get a zero period even though he requested for one.

Why did you not get a 0 period?

“I don’t know, they told me that the 0 period classes were impacted and that there weren’t many 0 periods to offer. I asked them again if they could put me in a 0 period class but they said no once again because apparently the school district want us to stay from 1-6 period.”

What do you think about that policy?

“I don’t agree with it since I am a senior and we should get the privilege to leave during 6th period and I also have work at 3:30.”

“I told them I had a job and they still said they couldn’t switch my classes or give me a zero period which I think is very unfair.”  

Andrea Morales requested a zero for family related aspects.

Why did you not receive a 0 period?

“Because I dont have 7 classes and apparently they’re just giving them to people with 7 classes”

Is it inconvenience for you and your family?

“Yes because i’m a senior and I deserve to leave after 5th period and my sister has a 0 so my mom has to make 2 trips instead of one”

Sacheen Premaratne has a zero period and seven rigorous classes, but requested for a 0-5, with his sixth period off.

What was your situation with 0 period?

“What happened was that I requested a 0 period but requested a 6th period off because I have work at 3 and was instead given a 0-6th with a 4th period open”

“The counselors did not want to change it and they gave a lot of freshmen 5th period off. It is unfair because a lot of seniors have jobs, so they want their 6th period off”

What did you do then to make your schedule more favorable?

“I decided to add ASB, because I had my fourth period off. I didn’t want my fourth period off. What’s the point of that? I wanted my sixth period off, but they still would not accommodate to me. Now i have a schedule of seven classes, even though I originally wanted only six classes. I have to go to work at 3 and it takes me 30 minutes to get there.”

What do you think about this 0 period policy?

“It’s not fair that they would give all of these freshmen 0 periods and not give me my 6th period off even though my freshmen year I had a 0 through 6”

Rodrigo Velazquez, a Senior, requested for a zero, but did not originally receive one.

Why did you originally request a 0 period?

“I love getting up early and also because my sister doesn’t have enough time to drop me off when it’s 7:45, so early is better for me.”

Did you have to request for a 0 period again since you didn’t get it originally?

“Yes, multiple times”

Are you involved with a lot of APs and honors courses?

“Yes, I am in 3 AP classes, 1 honors, and of course clubs.”

So you rather wake up an extra 50 min early than be at school for an extra 50 minutes of school at the end of the day right?

“Yeah, because my after school time is very valuable. ”

Do you think it is unfair that many students are not getting 0 periods, especially seniors?

“Of course because don’t we get first priority over everything, so shouldn’t we get 0 period first?”


We interviewed one of our schools counselor’s, Mrs. Bledsoe, to find answers as to why students weren’t receiving 0 periods.

Why were most students not given a 0 period this year?

“We actually started the process last year of trying to phase out students leaving early. A lot of seniors were trying to do the 0-4th so they’re leaving really early during the day. The original intent of 0 period was for students who needed to take an extra class, 7 periods, because they’re involved in so many programs and we’re trying to get back to that.”

What about the students who want a 0 for jobs or other activities they have to attend to?

“ The end of the school day is 2:35 and so a lot of people were using (0 period) to get to their jobs, child care, whatever it may be, but by law school ends at 2:35.”

So what do students need in order to get a 0?

“We’re now moving towards the future as additional programs things like that that you’re involved in, then you get the 0.”


Mrs.Bledsoe helped clarify that this is not a district policy, but something that Tustin High administration began last year and started reinforcing more this school year. However, according to Mrs. Matos, that doesn’t seem to be the case. We interviewed her to finally get to the bottom of it.

Why were most students not given a 0 period?

“0 period is reserved for students with an impacted schedule with 7 classes, so if you’d like a 0 period you can take 7 classes”

Do many teachers not have a 0 period?

“Correct since there are not as many students needing a 0 period”

Why are students that have jobs or important after school activities, how come they don’t have a 0 period?

“If they’re in a 0 period work experience and if they have a job then that counts”

Are teachers okay with this slight change?

“I think some teachers are disappointed that they don’t have a 0, because they liked leaving campus earlier, but I think they’ve adjusted recognizing that they’re responsible for working their work day”

Is this a Tustin high change or is it all of TUSD?

“All 3 high schools are trying to reduce the number of 0’s”

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