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Crescenta Valley High's open lunch might be bagged

Problems prompt a review

discussion is planned for tonight's Town Council meeting.

September 21, 2011|By Megan O'Neil megan.oneil@latimes.com

High numbers of drug-related expulsions, traffic accidents and absences have prompted a review of Crescenta Valley High School’s open lunch policy, officials said last week.

The campus, which serves students from the Sagebrush area of west La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta and North Glendale, is the only Glendale Unified high school that allows students to leave campus during their 35-minute lunch break. Hoover and Glendale high schools closed their campuses in 1992 and 1994, respectively, and Clark Magnet High School has never had open lunch.

Crescenta Valley High also has the distinction of having expelled the most students for drug-related offenses — 41 during the last five years, more than twice that of Glendale High and more than three times that of Hoover High.

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Speaking during a school board meeting last week, Deputy Supt. John Garcia directly correlated the expulsions, as well as other safety-related incidents, to the open lunch policy.

“During 2010-11 — these are lunchtime-specific incidents — there were three arrests, one weapon-related and two drug-related,” Garcia said. “Two students eluded law enforcement, meaning there was some type of suspicious activity and they ran and they got away.”

Crescenta Valley High School students were involved in a lunchtime traffic accident recently as well, he added.

Data also suggests that open lunch leads to increased rates of absences during fifth period, which immediately follows the midday break, Garcia said.

During the 2010-11 school year, Crescenta Valley High School had a daily average of 37 unverified absences during fifth period, Garcia said. Unverified absences during periods one through four averaged 29 a day, meaning some students are simply choosing not to return to campus after lunch, he said.

Tardiness rates for fifth period are also higher, Garcia reported.

Discussion of CVHS’s open lunch policy is planned for the CV Town Council meeting, which begins tonight at 7 p.m. in the CV Library.

La Cañada High School continues to maintain its open lunch policy, district officials said, although the tightening of restrictions for teenage drivers has limited the number of students who actually take advantage of it.

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