By Kendi Kajogo
The Board of Education’s recent decision to change Nyack High School’s open campus policy for freshmen and sophomores came as surprise to students and the administration alike. With no prior announcement that they were planning to hold a vote on the matter, and going against the advice of both the principal and the superintendent, the board passed the motion, five to two, on July 6.
The previous policy regarding the open status of the campus allowed all students, regardless of age or grade level, to leave the campus during their designated lunch periods and eat elsewhere. While there have been claims that the board only enacted this change as a ‘€œtest’€ in order to see what kind of responses the decision would garner, there have been others who claim that this will be a long-lasting decision made as a result of the large number of freshman and sophomore students who were failing during this past year.
If there is truth to the claims that there a large number of underclassman failing, then it is reasonable to understand why the board would feel the need to exclude them from the policy. Being able to leave the campus to eat elsewhere is a privilege, and if the underclassmen are abusing it, then why not take that right away from them until they prove they deserve it?
Amy Applebaum, former president of the school’s board, wrote an open letter to students, parents and school faculty alike to describe exactly what was wrong with the change. ‘€œThis decision was made without input from the High School committee that’s been working on safety issues, without input from staff’€¦ without any input from students, parents, or community members, with no plan in place to implement it and no information on what’s needed, and without even allowing community comment before it was voted on at the meeting’€.
Applebaum goes on to point out that by enacting this change, ‘€œThey’ve utterly overstepped by doing the administration’s job as well as their own, but without worrying about any of the details’€.
And she has a point; regardless of whether or not changing the status of the campus policy is a good or bad change for the high school and its students, the fact that the board went about it without first taking account of the opinions and suggestions of the students, faculty or parents raises obvious concerns. The main issue with the board’s decision to implement this change is mostly one of enforcement. How will they do it? Who will do it for them? Through what methods do they intend to inspect the grade levels of each student who wants to leave the campus during the school day?
In recent years, the administration has attempted to keep track of its students through the use of color coded ID cards that indicate the name and grade of the wearer, but speaking from experience as a student currently attending NHS, the implementing of this process lasted somewhere around the first two months of school before teachers stopped demanding that they be worn in class and security guards stopped asking to see them.
It is also important to consider that since this decision was made with little to no input from those who it would be directly affecting or from those who would be in charge of enforcing it, expecting full cooperation from everyone who is involved is highly unlikely. Specifically, expecting this year’s freshman, who will now be sophomores, to readily comply with the change after a year of being given the freedom to leave the campus during lunch will undoubtedly be met with resistance and anger from the majority of underclassman.
With the next Board meeting scheduled for August 24th, there is still time for those who are concerned with how the situation is being handled to come and let their opinions be heard before the start of the new school year.
Kendi Kajogo is a senior at Nyack High School and an editor of the school’s newspaper, The Spectrum.
See also: “An Open And Shut Campus,” 7/29/2010