The Arlington School Board voted unanimously last night to phase out the "open campus" policy that allows high school students to leave school grounds at lunch time with parental permission.
In related action, the board deferred action on tightening attendance policies until its administrative staff can explore the issue more thoroughly.
The phase-out will begin with next fall's freshman classes. The ninth-graders will be forbidden to leave school grounds. The following year, ninth and 10th graders will be included in the restrictions, and so on. In four years there will be no "open campuses."
Students who have valid reasons for leaving, such as those involved in work-study or career center programs, will not be affected by the new policy.
Unlike the old policy, which covered only the three regular high schools, the new policy will also apply to the H-B Woodlawn Secondary School, an "alternative" school with grades 7 to 12 that has a college-style format.
Several parents repeated criticisms last night that the "open campus" policy begun nearly a decade ago contributed to delinquency and drug and alcohol abuse by students leaving school grounds at lunch time. Other parents and many students argued that the law-abiding majority should not be penalized for the the misdeeds of a small minority.