School bans parents from eating lunch with kids

A school district in Connecticut is taking a drastic measure to stop parent disruptions during the school day.

The Darien School District recently sent a letter home to parents telling them that they're not welcome to have lunch with their elementary-aged children at the school during the learning day, The Associated Press reported.

The new policy affects all of the elementary schools in the district.

But parents are upset, telling the AP the ban won’t let them check in on their children and model good social behavior.

"It feels like a punch in the gut," Jessica Xu told the AP. "I chose the town for the schools, I'm so frustrated the schools don't want me there."

But another mother said she likes the new rule.

It was good because kids have to be able to learn how to work with each other and socialize with each other, and putting a parent in changes the dynamic dramatically," Beth Lane said during a recent board meeting, the AP reported.

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Many parents who also spoke at recent meetings, however are on the side of Xu, saying that they use the visits to see how their child is doing in school and to help them resolve issues with classmates, the AP reported.

School officials stand by the decision, saying that so many parents were having lunch with their children that the visits were affecting day-to-day running of the elementary schools.

Xu said normally six or seven parents were in the cafeteria with their children on a normal day.

Tara Ochman, chairwoman of the Darien Board of Education, issued a written statement over the policy:

“We believe that schools exist for children, and we work to develop the skills necessary for students to grow into engaged members of society. We work every day on this mission so that our students embrace their next steps confidently and respectfully,” Ochman wrote.

The district superintendent and elementary school principals did not answer the AP's requests for comment, but officials in a nearby town's school district say parents' visits can be disruptive.

Ann Franzese told the AP that parents visits can make children upset when parents leave, but it also impacts the school staff who feel like they're being scrutinized by the parents, some of which had lunch with their children weekly.

Franzese was a special education therapist in Weston, Connecticut, until this year, the AP reported.

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