Is It Safe to Leave Campus During School Hours?
June 1, 2016
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South Houston High School, located alongside a busy intersection, is close to many eating establishments that students visit everyday. The school’s administration does its best to prevent students from crossing over to these restaurants during lunch period, but that has proven to be a difficult task to manage. For one thing, the school does not have enough staff to stop all the students who try to leave campus. In addition, the administration is lenient with the students it catches. This gives students no incentive to stop. If the school doesn’t effectively enforce the policy, then why should it be enforced at all? The school should add enough faculty to secure the areas where students are most likely to leave from and punish more severely those they catch.
South Houston is a closed campus, meaning students can only enter and leave before and after school, or with a parent or guardian during school hours. It’s pretty easy for a student to leave campus. The school is located within walking distance of restaurants, and teenagers love breaking rules. It’s an adrenaline rush to walk across a street to get something to eat that’s different from the what is served at school. The school has implemented a patrolling golf cart, but a smart student will figure out the patrol’s patterns. And there is not enough staff to effectively secure the school’s perimeter of three doors and four gates that lead directly to the outside of the school including a huge athletic field surrounded by a low, chain-linked fence. “It’s fairly difficult because it’s a wide-open campus with a lot of exits and entrances,” explained Jeremy Barrett, a hall monitor at South Houston High School.
Probably one of the biggest concerns of the school’s administration is that a student might cross the street and be struck by oncoming traffic, according to Richard Stalling, an assistant principal at South Houston High School. Parents send their kids to what they expect to be a safe school, and it is safe until a student takes the unnecessary risk of running across the street because he or she does not like what is served in the cafeteria. Many of the students that choose to do this don’t use the crosswalk. That is faster but also riskier. There was at least one incident earlier this semester where a student crossed Shaver on the way to school in the morning without using a crosswalk and was struck by a car, which severely injured the student.
If students are caught leaving or entering campus during school hours, they are likely to be given a verbal warning on the first offense, then, if they are repeat offenders, they could be written up for truancy. “Yet we’ll still have students disregard those directives and still go to lunch,” Stallings said.
One of the biggest motives for students leaving is because of the food they are served. Many of the students don’t find the school appetizing so they look for alternatives and many of those alternatives are just across the street. Additionally, many students think it is okay to leave campus, when a student sees another one of his peers leave then the student will think it’s okay to leave campus temporarily, especially when the required distance to walk across isn’t much. “It’s just across the street,” pointed out Angel Vega, a senior at South Houston High School, about how easy it is to get to La Michoacana, a food store and restaurant across from campus on Edgebrook.
Students shouldn’t be allowed to leave campus for safety reasons, but if no one is doing anything about it then what’s the point of even enforcing it at all? The school should hire more staff to seal the side of campus facing the intersection where most of the student traffic occurs.