Crescenta Valley High School students who wish to leave campus during lunch will be required to submit written permission from a parent while also demonstrating appropriate conduct both on and off school grounds.
The new terms, outlined during a Glendale Unified school board meeting Tuesday and effective starting Jan. 30, essentially flips the existing practice at the La Crescenta school. Previously, parents have signed a form if they did not want their child to go off campus during lunch.
They also bring the Crescenta Valley lunch policy in sync with that of the school board, Deputy Supt. John Garcia said.
“We are not actually following the current board policy at Crescenta Valley High School in regard to what students need to do to leave campus for lunchtime,” Garcia said.
District officials say they didn’t know the consent form process was inverted until they started discussing policy changes. When the form was changed several years ago, it apparently was not cross-referenced with the board’s policy.
The new permission form marks the latest turn in a months-long, community-wide discussion about whether students should be allowed off campus midday, with some stakeholders arguing it creates opportunities for bad behavior and others saying it fosters independence and responsibility. It was triggered by what district officials described as an alarming trend in the number of lunchtime incidents, including traffic accidents and drug and alcohol use.
Not only does requiring written permission to leave campus bring Crescenta Valley in line with district policy, it places the responsibility on the students, school board member Greg Krikorian said.
“I like to see the onus on the kids now,” Krikorian said. “They know this is out there. I am curious to see the results six months from now. How is it working? Are numbers going down? Are we still getting hit with tardies? Are we still getting hit with expulsions?”
The La Crescenta campus is the only Glendale Unified school that maintains open lunch — Hoover and Glendale high schools closed their campuses completely in 1992 and 1994, respectively. Clark Magnet High School has never had an open lunch.
That Crescenta Valley has avoided scrutiny for so long highlights its long independent streak — one that parents and the surrounding community have fiercely defended.
But the new rules could get even more restrictive after next month, when school board members consider updating their own policy and weigh additional lunchtime-related data, such as absences, tardies, suspensions and expulsions.
School officials could choose to further restrict who can leave Crescenta Valley at lunch, creating a reward-style system that makes open lunch a privilege, not a right, Garcia said. Any such changes would go into effect at the start of the 2012-13 school year, he added.
Those Crescenta Valley students who submit a written permission form from their parents allowing them to leave campus will have a sticker added to their student identification card. They will have to show the card and the sticker upon request from an official. Students who leave campus without permission will be subject to disciplinary action.
The district also reserves the right to revoke any student lunch permit for inappropriate behavior, including reckless driving, jaywalking, excessive tardiness or truancy and trespassing or loitering on private property.
Board Vice President Christine Walters said she was originally in favor of closing the campus entirely during lunch, but changed her mind after numerous conversations with La Crescenta families.
“I have come to appreciate how much a part of the culture this is, how much parents really value this as an opportunity for their children to exercise some independence and learn some responsibility,” Walters said. “I am satisfied with where we have come.”