District holds off changing school lunch policy

Discussion about further curtailing the Crescenta Valley High School open lunch policy has been placed on hold while officials work to implement preliminary changes announced last month.

Officials at the La Crescenta campus are still collecting and processing parental permission forms from students who wish to go off campus midday, Glendale Unified Deputy Supt. John Garcia said Tuesday. By early March, a sticker will be added to those students’ identification cards, which they will have to show to school and law enforcement officials upon request.

The new requirement, announced last month, reverses the previous practice, in which Crescenta Valley High School parents signed a form only if they did not want their child released during lunch. It also brings the campus in line with policy set by the Glendale Unified school board.

At a school board meeting on Jan. 17, officials said that the new accountability system would go into effect with the start of second semester, which kicked off on Jan. 30. But the processing of the permission forms is taking longer than anticipated, Garcia said.

The campus currently remains open during lunch.

Glendale Unified officials announced in September that they were reviewing the Crescenta Valley open lunch policy in response to lunch-time incidents, including traffic accidents, drug and alcohol use and truancy.

It is the only campus in the district that still allows students to go off-campus at midday.

During a series of community forums through the fall, some stakeholders added loitering and littering to the list of negative lunch-time behaviors and called for the campus to be closed immediately.

But others defended the existing policy, saying that it is part of La Crescenta culture, and that it encourages independence and responsibility.

“There are individuals that feel very strongly that the campus should stay open,” Garcia said Tuesday. “There are individuals that feel very strongly that the campus should be closed at lunch.”

He heard from many stakeholders who suggested making leaving campus at lunch a privilege reserved for upperclassmen only, Garcia said.

School board members said they would use the Crescenta Valley-specific debate about open lunch to review district-wide policy this month. But Supt. Dick Sheehan said that discussion will largely be put on hold until officials can assess how the changes at the La Crescenta campus play out.

“We will probably table it until we see what has occurred at Crescenta Valley High School over second semester,” Sheehan said. “It is our understanding that the students up there are working very hard to ensure that they keep their open campus.”

More than anything, officials said, they want to re-brand the Crescenta Valley open lunch policy as a privilege to be retained by good behavior.

“It just seems to have morphed to where it was more of a feeling of entitlement than something that really was an opportunity based on doing things well,” Garcia said.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World