seniors will not be allowed to arrive late or leave early in the second semester after the Board of Education rejected an open campus proposal Tuesday night by a 4-3 vote.
Superintendent Stephen Falcone, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Matt Byrnes, and Darien High School Principal Dan Haron . It would have pertained only to seniors who do not have classes in the first or last time slots of the day, who earn at least a 2.5 grade point average, who do not have disciplinary problems, and who receive parental approval.
“The fact is that seniors who are about to leave for college are about to make decisions for themselves,” Haron said Tuesday night. “The fears I have about letting students off campus were alleviated by the conversations I had with the principals.”
Districts with similar demographics allow their seniors this privilege, and have experienced positive results, Byrnes said. He cited Greenwich, New Canaan, Weston, Wilton, and Ridgefield high schools.
“It is nice for seniors to have privileges,” Byrnes said.
Board member Heather Shea voted against the proposal, citing concerns about academic performance being undermined and the safety of elementary school students who live near the high school campus.
“I am having trouble, because when we opened that new high school, we took away class distinctions,” Shea said. “…The fact that we are putting in a special privilege for seniors seems to be heading in the wrong direction.”
Board member Jim Plutte favored the proposal, saying it would encourage seniors to be responsible for managing their time.
“The single biggest reason for failure among college freshmen is a student being unable to manage one’s time. We make a decision based upon the information that is available to us,” Plutte said. “I do not think you compromise the integrity of a high school. Do I think this will never, ever be abused? No.”
Board member Clara Sartori voted against the measure, saying she wants twelfth graders to be in the school building for the entire day.
“Overall, I think a student is better off being in school than not being in school," she said. “You must have compelling reasons to support students not being in school.”
Board member Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross wanted to know how freshmen, sophomores, and juniors would be prevented from arriving late and then entering the high school through a side door.
Haron conceded that the younger students could sneak into the building through a side door, and not be recorded as having arrived late to school. “The truth is that signing in at the front desk is not a burden anyway,” he said. “Most students do it the right way.”
In the end, Shea, Sartori, Morgan Whittier, and Amy Bell voted against the plan; Hagerty-Ross, Plutte, and chairman Kim Westcott voted for it.
Correction: Due to an editing error, the original version of this article incorrectly stated that board members Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross, Jim Plutte, and Kim Westcott voted against the plan. In fact, they voted for it. Patch regrets the error.