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Community splits on CVHS open-lunch debate

Town Council meeting gets heated, with some parents championing the status quo and others demanding immediate action.

September 24, 2011|By Megan O‘Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • Going home on minimum day, Crescenta Valley High School ASB President Marita Maffit, 17 and a senior, left, and ASB director of fine arts Paloma Rabinov, right, talk about going to lunch outside of campus on regular-schedule days, in front of the La Crescenta school on Thursday, September 15, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Going home on minimum day, Crescenta Valley High School…

Community members appear divided about the possible elimination of Crescenta Valley High School’s open lunch, with some characterizing any change as an unnecessary punishment and others ripping district officials for not moving quickly enough to stem the student-related problems identified in a recent report.

Glendale Unified officials announced last week that they were reviewing the open-lunch policy after drawing a connection between it and ongoing disciplinary problems, absences and student tardiness. In doing so, they ignited a debate among Crescenta Valley residents who are proud of their high-performing high school and yet acutely aware of its lingering student drug problem. 

During the Crescenta Valley Town Council meeting Thursday, Crescenta Valley High School senior Aimee Yeghiayan, 17, said students who want to cut class or use illegal substances will do so no matter what the lunch policy is. Others argued that if district officials decided to close the campus, they would be punishing the entire student body for the poor choices of a small minority. 

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“You hold them personally accountable and responsible for that drug use, not everybody else’s kid on that campus,” parent Dave Devens said. “Where is the individual responsibility and accountability when you have the student’s name at the time he is found high on campus?” 

But some said that the open-lunch policy creates opportunities for bad behavior, and called on the school board to close the campus immediately. 

“My two children and my two nephews were parking the car after lunch and they were offered drugs by older teenagers, maybe 19 to 20 [years old],” said parent Victoria Gutierrez-Kovner. “They immediately reported it. I reported it to law enforcement. Law enforcement said we will increase our presence. Today I went throughout all that area at lunch — there was no increased law enforcement presence.”

Other parents said their concerns go beyond drug and alcohol use. 

“It is about other risky behaviors,” said Kevin Cordova-Brookey. “It is about my kid getting propositioned by a male student wanting to go to his house during lunch to have sex. That is what it is about for me.”

In one heated exchange, Crescenta Valley Town Council member Harry Leon criticized the school board for not doing its part to address the years-old drug problem.

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