The Arlington School Board has agreed to reconsider a policy scheduled to take effect this fall that bars high school seniors from leaving their school campuses at lunchtime.
The request for a policy change came from several students at the four county high schools and some parents in what is the last year of a phased-in policy ending so-called "open campuses" at the schools.
"Some of the points they made are very good -- about being able to drive and vote and yet not being able to be free at lunch," said School Board Chairman Gail H. Nuckols, referring afterwards to testimony at last week's board meeting by those in favor of continuing the privilege for seniors.
The 1983 School Board decided to exempt freshmen from the "open campus" policy that fall and to extend the ban to students in the sophomore class the following year. An additional grade was added each year until this fall when no student would be able to leave the campus at lunchtime, even with written permission from parents.
The board's action came in response to complaints from some law enforcement officials and parents who said the policy encouraged delinquency and disruptions in nearby neighborhoods. Those who opposed the board's decision to close the campuses argued that the law-abiding majority should not be penalized for the misdeeds of a small minority.
The School Board referred this year's request to continue "open campus" privileges for seniors only to its administrative staff. The staff is expected to contact principals or their assistants who are responsible for enforcing the policy at the four high schools: Washington-Lee, Wakefield, Yorktown and H.B. Woodlawn, a secondary school with grades 7 through 12.
Students at those schools have prepared a report outlining reasons for keeping the senior privilege, including the fact that many of them are 18-year-olds who will soon be off to the independent life and responsibilities of college.
"I think it is a reasonable request and certainly worthy of careful consideration," Nuckols said.