The superintendent of Darien, Connecticut, schools recently issued a statement in an email that angered the entire community. The Darien school system announced that parents were no longer allowed to come and visit their children during their lunchtime. According to NBC, the new rule was made because too many parents were making cafeteria visits and causing a distraction to other students.
Darien is a wealthy community that is well known for its topnotch schools. Many parents say they chose to live in this particular area because they wanted the opportunity to be involved in their children’s education. For some parents, an occasional lunch time visit was a great bonding activity for them and their child. Other parents liked to surprise their children on their birthday with a special treat for their lunch. Now they are being told these visits are banned altogether.
One mother, Jessica Xu, has several children in the school system with the oldest in first grade. In an interview, she described her disappointment in the decision, saying, “It feels like a punch in the gut. I chose the town for the schools. I’m so frustrated the schools don’t want me there.” Terry Steadman, another mother, said she was brought to tears by the decision. “To just ban parents from the lunchroom, which is effectively what you’re doing with this email, I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s in the spirit of a collaborative environment,” she said.
Maureen Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the school district, says that the decision was made to try to manage the number of people coming in and out of the school on a day-to-day basis. She also mentioned that school employees may feel that extra pressure is placed on them while there are parents looking over their shoulder. “It’s about managing the numbers in the school,” she said. “You just can’t have parents hanging out at the school, just watching.”
Many school districts don’t have a rule regarding how often a parent can visit their child in the lunchroom. In many cases the rule is simply not necessary because the majority of parents aren’t able to visit on a frequent basis. This is likely due to other obligations like work or other young children at home that need to be cared for. Not all parents are able to take the time out of the day to make such as visit. Darien is a special community that is lucky to have so many parents that have the ability and desire to be involved in the schools.