Community members continued to weigh in on a possible change to the open lunch policy at Crescenta Valley High School during a forum Thursday — the latest in an ongoing dialogue about whether allowing students off campus during the school day fosters dangerous and illegal behavior.
Glendale Unified Deputy Supt. John Garcia announced in September that district officials were reviewing the policy after an analysis indicated high rates of drug-related expulsions and other issues related to having the open campus during lunch.
Crescenta Valley High is the only Glendale Unified school that allows students to leave for lunch on a daily basis. Hoover and Glendale high schools closed their campuses in 1992 and 1994, respectively, and Clark Magnet High School has never had an open lunch.
At a community forum at the La Crescenta campus on Thursday, which drew about 75 people, several people who live in immediate proximity to the campus complained that the open lunch hour means trash in the streets and displays of aggressive driving.
But others argued that those things can happen just as easily at 3 p.m., when classes are dismissed for the day, as at noon. Senior Demitri Camperos suggested that the district modify the lunch policy to allow only students with strong academic or clean disciplinary records to leave campus.
“Now we are talking about something that is encouraging kids to study a little more,” Camperos said.
Students who abuse the open lunch policy and show up late to fifth period should have the privilege temporarily revoked, Camperos added.
“This is a privilege,” Camperos said. “We are the only Glendale Unified school that has an open campus and it is wonderful, I love it. I think we should still have it, but by limiting it, we are reducing the trash that is there, we are reducing the drugs.
Other community members also advocated for some sort of compromise. But several parents said the open policy is a long-running tradition that allows students to develop a sense of responsibility and independence.
While student safety should be a high priority in the community, the statistics presented by the district are not unusual for the teenage demographic, said parent Debbie Thompson.
“There are a lot better issues that we could spend our time and money on in my opinion,” Thompson said.
The matter likely will return to the school board for additional discussion in January, and then for a possible vote on Feb. 7, Garcia said.
-- Megan O'Neil, Times Community News