For Safety, Unannounced Parent Visits Barred in New Jersey School

Parents of students at Summit High School in Summit, New Jersey will no longer be able to pop in to the school building unannounced. The new policy, which will cover all schools in the district, was outlined in a letter to parents from the district superintendent Nathan Parker last week.

In the letter, Parker notes that any non-scheduled visits, including to drop off items forgotten by the students will not be allowed starting this September. Schools will offer an IOU for those who forgot their lunch money; those who forgot homework or supplies are on their own.

According to Caitlin Mahon writing for the Summit Patch, more than 400 parents visit the high school daily and many more drop by the middle and the elementary school. Most are not there on school business but are instead bringing forgotten items from home.

“After speaking with principals, teachers and parents, we have come to a decision that we must eliminate as many unannounced visitors to the schools as possible,” Parker said in the letter to parents.

“Not only will eliminating these visits help to keep the schools safer by lessening the number of individuals gaining access to the buildings, but it also will help ingrain responsibility into the students and transfer the ownership to them. By forgetting lunch, homework or athletic gear once and not having it brought to them, students will learn accountability.”

It appears that parents are split on the decision. According to district spokeswoman Karen Greco, the feedback received by the school on the new policy has been about 50/50. In an email to the Patch, Greco said that in addition to safety concerns, not allowing parents to bring items to students in the middle of the day would be a good way to promote personal responsibility. She noted that the decision was made at the administrative level and not by the district’s board of education.

The committee convened to consider the new policy was made up of Parker, the principals of the high, middle and elementary schools and four parents.

In addition to “drop ins” and “drop offs” no longer being allowed, appointments will now have to be made to see any teachers, administrators or staff members. Plus, parents must submit a note about picking up children to the attendance secretary at the middle and high schools, and to the teacher at the elementary schools, the day before. However, if a note is forgotten, a phone call must be made to the main office before any child is picked up.
Greco told Patch that this is a procedure that will be implemented with common sense.