The Nyack Board of Education will likely vote on a revised policy regarding the open campus at Nyack High School at its meeting May 21.
The members of the school board made a motion during Tuesday's workshop meeting to revise Policy 5181, which would have closed the campus for all students during the school day with some exceptions. The previous version of the proposal can be found here.
Though the move was recommended by the administration, it drew a strong reaction from April 23.
The board voted, 4-3, in favor of a motion Tuesday that would allow only 12th grade students to walk off campus for lunch. Michael Mark, Leann Irwin, Dan Kaplan and Dan Juechter were in favor of allowing seniors to go out to lunch. Claudette Jimerson, Karen Hughes and James Marshall favored the closed campus for all.
Hughes said she discussed the issue over lunch, off campus, with Alex Panov, the student representative to the board.
"I really struggled with this," Hughes said. "I had the opportunity to have lunch with Alex. What did we do? We went off campus. I told Alex she should go into law. She was quite compelling in her argument to keep the campus open.
"If we had 900 Alex Panovs in the school, at the risk of embarrassing her, we wouldn't even be talking about this. The problem I have is the few idiots who will blow this for everybody somewhere down the line and create a liability for us."
Hughes and Marshall both cited safety concerns as reasons to keep the campus closed. The building administration has also advocated closing the campus.
"If the current policy were working, the board would have no need for discussion," Marshall said. "It is not working when we have students returning from off-campus lunch under the influence of controlled substances.
"I urge the entire board to take a stance in support of the administration at the risk of being unpopular."
"I respect the students. I also have a great deal of respect for the staff here, especially the principal and her staff," Jimerson said. "I will never go against the recommendation of a school principal who is with these children every day, in many cases longer than the parents. I will support principal Nicole Saieva and say I'd like to see the campus closed."
Irwin said she was impressed by the way the students opposing the closing of the campus handled themselves at the April meeting, making her more interested in the compromise of allowing only seniors to go off campus.
"At the very least, we should have an open campus for our seniors,
Juechter said. "We have 17 and 18 year old young men and women, some of whom can fight for our country. They should be old enough to go off campus for lunch."
Kaplan said he opposed closing the campus all along.
"I've always found that the way you teach responsibility and decision making is by giving them responsibility," Kaplan said.
Superintendent Dr. James Montesano said that the revision would create more work for building staff, especially security personnel. He stressed the importance of voting on the matter before the school year is out so students and parents can be notified before summer vacation.