Liability concerns crush possibility of leaving school grounds for lunch

Michael Pearce, Writer

In movies and TV shows, high school students are often depicted as going off campus for lunch and having complete freedom including ability to leave grounds. However, that scenario usually stays in the fictitious world of movies and TV.

Fenton has a closed campus policy. The school district does not permit students to leave campus during the school day. The only way students are given permission to leave school grounds is by the Early Dismissal/Checkout Procedure.

“Long before I got here, they used to have off campus lunch and apparently too many issues arose,” Assistant Principal Laura Lemke said. “Kids would come back to school under the influence, or got into car accidents and were hurt. Other people’s kids were being transported off campus without their parents’ permission and it was a car accident situation. It became a law suit, so then the school just discontinued it because of the liability.”

To help the students stay safe during lunch time, the student handbook now states that no student is allowed to leave school grounds during lunch without specific permission granted by the administration. It also states that students are required to eat lunch in the cafeteria or on the picnic tables next to the building. Traffic concerns and rushing around may cause injuries, mobile food stations and trucks could be a different option.

“My main concern with off campus lunch is safety. When drivers are rushed they make mistakes and accidents happen,” Chief Police Rick Aro said. “Mobile kitchens and lunch wagons etc. are becoming very popular and have some very good food, maybe that would be an acceptable option to make the food choice varied.”