Off campus lunch policy sparks controversy

by Darius Davila | Staff Writer

Although NEISD does not allow students to go off campus for lunch due to liability issues, other San Antonio school districts such as Northside ISD do. NISD’s off campus lunch policies have sparked rising controversy with the recent Brandeis high school student accident incident. However, NISD has not changed its off campus lunch policy despite a student car accident taking place during lunch time.

“While tragic as the situation was, it is still up to parents to allow their child to leave school. The school’s cafeteria is well able to feed all students so there has been no change in policy,” NISD Executive Director of Communications Pascual Gonzalez said.

According to NISD rules and policies, not just any student is given the privilege of eating lunch off-campus. They have to meet a certain criteria.

“The requirements needed for students to have off campus lunch are good grades, their parents’ permission to go off campus (signed permission slip), and they have to have passed the state standardized tests. Students can re-apply for off campus lunch per semester,” Gonzalez said.

When students travel off campus for lunch, they are expected to follow certain rules even if they are not on campus at the time.

“Students need to represent their school and NISD well in public places, and acknowledge that tardies (returning from lunch) can result in losing their off campus privilege,” Gonzalez said. “The

Parent consent form to allow off campus lunch for NISD.

vast majority of students take the off-campus privilege seriously and don’t want to lose it by making bad choices. The biggest challenge with having off-campus lunch policy is students being mindful of time management.”

Although other San Antonio school districts do not share NISD’s off campus policy, NISD has had this lunch policy for twenty plus years, and has yet to change it.

“School districts make their own policies independent of other school districts. Obviously we are interested in what others do, but ultimately it is an NISD decision to allow parents to make the choice,” Gonzalez said.

NISD and other districts who share their policy, view having an off campus lunch as an opportunity to allow parents to make the decision of letting their child off campus, as well as a chance to trust students with more responsibility as a young adult and honor their hard work throughout their high school career. Despite this, some have different opinions about enabling students to travel off campus.

“I think it’s a bad idea. We have a closed campus for lunch for a reason, it’s for safety of kids. I think it’s good that kids eat lunch in the cafeteria, my main concern is that kids may be running late so they hurry to get back and so it makes dangerous driving situations,” Assistant Principal Stuart Guthrie said.

Some believe that in spite of parents signing a release form the school is still responsible for the students off campus.

“The district is responsible for kids during school hours, because if something happens on campus like a crisis and all these kids come back from lunch, the school is responsible for finding them a safe place. As opposed to if they were already on campus, overall it’s safer to be on campus during lunch. Plus, it’s a healthier lunch,” NEISD police officer Wally McCampbell said.

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