Beech Grove halts lunchtime visits to students

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Parents are being prohibited from the schools in one local district, at least when it comes to the school lunch period.

Beech Grove school officials say they wanted to cut down on the traffic coming in and out of their schools, including parents, as a way to keep students safer. So this year, they've unveiled a new policy, which prohibits parents from coming to the schools to eat lunch with their kids in the school cafeteria.

There are only so many hours in a week for parents to do it all, that's why Jason Hammer likes to stop by his kids Beech Grove schools and eat lunch with them.

"It was a blast. The kids would like it. It was fun to surprise the kids for lunch," said Hammer.

Now, this dad won't be able to do that because of the district's new school lunch policy, which prohibits Hammer from eating with his kids on school property.

"We just want to protect the safety of the kids," said Superintendent Paul Kaiser.

Kaiser said school cafeterias were getting too crowded with too many parents.

"We have parents that come in. We ask them to go here, they end up down the hallway over there. It really becomes we're supervising parents," explained Kaiser.

Not to mention child custody issues where schools were getting caught in the middle.

"We may have one parent come in and say, 'Yeah, I want to have lunch with my child' and then the other parent finds out and says, 'Well, there's a no-contact order'," said Kaiser.

"In this society, where parents need to be part of their kids' lives, the school kind of telling us, 'No, you need to stay at home,' kinda stinks," said Hammer.

Some parents said they are okay with the new policy, because kids whose parents can't come to eat lunch with them won't feel left out.

"As a mom, safety is one big thing that I'm concerned about with, like I said, all the school shootings going on inside the schools," said Phillis Cole.

"We want to be consistent and, you know, try to provide that environment that's not really disruptive," explained Kaiser.

But Hammer says parents who just want to spend more time with their kids are being punished unfairly because of the new policy.

"I understand why it's in place, but its still disappointing," he said.

Disappointing or not, those are still the rules, said district officials.

One part of the new policy that could still allow parents to spend time with their kids is the clause which allows parents to take their kids out to lunch for the 35-minute lunch period.

Eyewitness News called other districts across the central Indiana to see about their policies.

Beech Grove is the only one that prohibits parents coming for lunch at school. Some districts, like Center Grove, require a day's notice if a parent wants to come and have lunch with their child at school.

Districts like IPS, Greenwood, and Brownsburg require parents to sign in and show an identification at the office before going to the school cafeteria.