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School Board to Allow Studies of Closing Campuses at Lunch

Times Staff Writer

Individual communities around San Diego city’s 16 high schools will be allowed to consider whether a school’s open-campus policy should be changed to close the campus and keep students on the premises during lunch, the Board of Education decided Tuesday.

The board unanimously approved a new policy proposed by trustee Jim Roache, who believes strongly that the district’s open-campus policy should be altered to cut down on lunchtime truancy and tardiness, drug and alcohol use and traffic and litter in many of the neighborhoods of the district’s high schools.

The new policy will allow the option for individual schools to study the benefits and drawbacks of closing their campuses during the noontime break. Roache conceded at the outset last month that there was not a majority of the five-member board willing to mandate closing of all high schools without a comprehensive study of the effects on student morale, food services, campus security and counseling.

Groups Can Ask for a Study

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Under the plan approved Tuesday, a diverse group of community or school groups that wishes to close a campus can ask the Board of Education to order a study. If the board determines that the petitioning groups are broadly representative of the school’s neighboring community, it will order the principal to convene an equally representative committee of school and neighborhood people to carry out the study.

Upon the study’s completion, its recommendation for either closing the campus or leaving it open will be forwarded to trustees, who will make the final decision based on how fair and comprehensively the committee carried out the evaluation.

The issue grew out of a January decision by a teacher-parent committee at Patrick Henry High School in San Carlos, after a six-month study, not to recommend that their campus be closed despite the urging of many Henry parents and neighborhood residents. Several San Carlos residents as well as Roache and colleague Shirley Weber believed the committee report may not have fairly reflected community sentiment.

Both Patrick Henry and Serra High School in Tierrasanta are the likely candidates for studies under the proposal approved Tuesday, since the two schools are in largely residential areas where students who leave the campus during lunch are more visible--and bothersome to some--contrasted with other high schools in more urban and commercial areas.

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