Parents in suburban Nashville are furious after an elementary school announced plans to limit the number of times they could visit their children during lunchtime.
“Everyone is very frustrated, very angry,” parent Becky Rutland told Fox News. “I feel like it’s a violation of my rights as a parent.”
Rutland has four children who attend Clovercroft Elementary School in Franklin, Tenn. Like a number of other parents, she enjoys visiting her youngsters during their lunch period.
“They’re gone from me every day for seven or eight hours,” she explained, noting that occasional lunch time visits allowed her “to see them, to touch base with them and to know who their friends are.”
Under the new policy, a parent would only be allowed to eat lunch with their children twice during a nine-week period.
Carol Birdsong, a spokesperson for Williamson County Schools, told Fox News the principal came up with the voucher system as a result of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
“Based on that, she thought it might be good to implement a voucher-type system,” she said.
“Please remember the primary purpose for this process is to ensure that we are able to account for all the adults in the cafeteria enjoying lunch with their children,” Principal Laura LaChance wrote in an email to parents.
Under the new rules, parents would have to register online and obtain an “event ticket” to eat lunch with their children.
“To my understanding this is a plan that she’s putting into place to protect our children,” Rutland said. “I’m angry about it.”
Rutland said she believes the school is usurping her role as a mother.
“I firmly don’t believe that parents are the problem here,” she said. “And if anything, taking parents out of the school is more dangerous than having a parental presence in the school.”
Rutland said she took comfort knowing that other moms were visiting their children – and keeping tabs on activities at the school.
“(The principal) is creating a lot more hoops to limit parental involvement,” she said.
Birdsong said the new system will not be implemented until after the district completes a safety audit.
“We’ve asked all of our principals to halt any programs they were planning,” she said. “This program won’t be implemented until the audit is completed.”
Birdsong said armed deputies are already providing security in the district’s middle and high schools and they’ve asked for funding to put armed officers in elementary schools.
She said the school district understands the frustration of parents like Rutland.
“We have extraordinary parental involvement and we are very proud of that involvement,” she said. “We always encourage parents in our schools. It’s one of the reasons we are so successful.”
If that’s the case, Rutland would like to know why they are allowing one of their schools to implement a policy that would limit parental involvement.
“I don’t feel like a principal or anyone else should be able to tell me when I can and can’t see my children,” she said. “I don’t feel like a school administration knows what’s best for my children.”