A new ban was passed to prevent parents in Darien, CT from visiting their children during lunchtime at school. One mother told NBC news she “shed tears” reading the superintendent’s announcement. Another parent said the announcement felt like a “body blow”.
The Darien school system passed the ‘lunchtime ban’ after an increase in parent visitations to their school cafeterias. The Darien superintendent and elementary school principals haven’t commented on the ban but local news spoke with a Kelly Ann Franzese, a veteran of school lunchrooms in Weston. Franzese said parent visits can be taxing because children become upset when their parents leave and school staff members feel their every move is being scrutinized. Franzese refered to some parents as “helicopter moms”.
Parents in Darien say the lunchtime visits allowed them to check in with their children, resolve friction with other kids and offer any needed help. The mother of a first grader, Jessica Xu said in an interview, “I chose the town for the schools. I’m so frustrated the schools don’t want me there.”
Darien is a community with high-performing schools and wealthy families. In many CT cities, lunchtime visits aren’t an issue because most parents work during the day and aren’t able to visit. The practice is rare in many urban and low-income areas where parents often don’t have the same engagement with schools.
Darien’s chairman of the Board of Education Tara Ochman, reported the elementary school principals felt the parents were affecting the day-to-day running of their schools. Schools do have the right to determine their own boundaries for visitations and they vary depending on the district.
Terry Steadman, a parent, spoke to the school board saying: “To just ban parents from the lunchroom, which is effectively what you’re doing … I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s in the spirit of a collaborative environment.”
What do you think? Are lunchtime visits disruptive or beneficial? Should the school keep the ban or work to accomodate parents?