GUSD Dep. Superintendent John Garcia was greeted by about 100 students of Crescenta Valley High School who attended a discussion on the possible discontinuance of the school’s open campus lunch policy.
After a string of incidents during the lunch periods, including car accidents and drug-related incidents that have led to student expulsions, there has been growing discussion about potentially ending Crescenta Valley High’s open lunch policy.
After Hoover High adopted a closed lunch policy in 1992 and Glendale High did the same in 1994, CV stands as the only high school in the district with an open lunch policy. After a preliminary discussion headed by Deputy Superintendent John Garcia about closing lunch at a September Crescenta Valley Town Council meeting, students invited Dr. Garcia to speak and answers students’ questions directly.
About 100 Crescenta Valley High students packed into the Fire House youth center at St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church to hear from Dr. Garcia Tuesday night.
Garcia began the meeting by laying down a timeline for the students.
“What began about a year ago was a severe pattern of expulsions at Crescenta Valley High School, the vast majority of them drug related,” said Garcia. “It seemed that a disproportionate amount of those incidents were occurring during lunch.”
However, Dr. Garcia explained to the students that at this stage, “No decision has been made” regarding the future of the school’s policy.
The apparent final decision on whether to close the campus for lunch will not occur until sometime in January.
With that date looming in the distance, the students felt it necessary to gather and glean some information on just how much of a possibility a closed campus was.
For the remainder of the meeting, Dr. Garcia fielded questions from the audience. As expected, students were generally against a closure of the campus. However, the students also appeared aware of the drug problems and other incidents and agreed that some solution had to be found to remedy those problems.
Several students suggested that closing the campus would do next to nothing in terms of alleviating the drug problems, saying that students who choose to do drugs would continue to do so, whether on or off campus, during or outside of school hours.
Others, such as senior James Owen, suggested that closing the campus could make things even more problematic.
“Security and student safety are the main concerns,” said Owen. “I think it would be dangerous to have close to 3,000 students during one lunch period on such a small campus. With other schools that have a closed campus, the number of fights and accidents in the schools actually rises.”
Several comparisons to the closed campuses of Hoover and Glendale High were drawn, with many students highlighting the higher rates of truancies and similar incidents at those schools compared with CV, and CV’s comparatively higher test scores, such as API scores.
Other students suggested alternate ways of approaching closing the campus, such as only closing the campus to freshmen and sophomores or only for students who fit certain criteria such as multiple truancies, suspensions, etc.
Students also wanted to know what changes would be made should the campus be closed. Garcia noted that those kinds of particulars have not been discussed in detail, but two potential changes include an increased security presence and possibly even fencing.
Afterward, Garcia said that the student turnout was “amazing” and that “their questions were very well thought out.”
It remains fairly open as to whether or not the campus will close, so the discussion still has room to develop and many layers that demand further consideration, such as the effect on local businesses who profit from CV students’ business. Until that January school board meeting, everything is still in the open.