Pennsylvania School cut father's opportunity to lunch with his son
February 2, 2001 5:36 AM   Subscribe

Pennsylvania School cut father's opportunity to lunch with his son after he has been there every day for four years. Due to his work schedule this is the only time he has to spend with his son.
posted by Animus (26 comments total)
It is not mentioned in this article but when I heard this on the radio it was said the father works as a custodian at a nursing home during the day as well.

I'm up in the air on this one. It seems like the father is just trying to do a good thing and spend time with his son when those opportunites are limited. There aren't any divorce issues here that would draw the school into an awkward situation. I'd have to guess people are comfortable with him working around children if he works as a school custodian.

It just seems as though the school officials have far too many excuses and are uncomfortable about having to take the action.

"If the parent frequently wants to be at lunch or drives a child to school, it could create a bigger anxiety problem about separation" that's why we are just cutting him off from his father now, to get the child used to being a loner and isolated from his family at an early age...

posted by Animus at 5:44 AM on February 2, 2001

Because we will only get involved with the individual student if we can somehow make the news. heh. While I don't think they're in it for some sinister reason, they are being rather unreasonable; dad works until midnight, thus it's the only time he can see his kid. Don't really see the problem in that. I'm thinking when the kid feels embarrassed or something of that sort to have his dad show up, it'll just resolve on it's own?
posted by tiaka at 6:00 AM on February 2, 2001

"So, on Jan. 24, Grove received a registered letter informing him that he would be charged with trespassing if he further violates the policy."

IF anyone EVER threatened that they would charge me with tresspassing for seeing my child, however frequently and regardless of time, it would be A) The last day my child went to that school, or any in that district and B) The First day I pay a laywer to find out how to sue or get fired those school officials involved.

Since when should a school be concerned with anything but teaching a child? They have this self important notion that they are "shaping well rounded citizens of the future" and it's bull. Leave the shaping to parents and focus on the educating. It's not like American schools are doing well enough in that area to be spending time on anything else anyway.
posted by Nothing at 6:31 AM on February 2, 2001

My favorite part is this:

"But if Mom or Dad are there and the parent says it's fine to run up and get a napkin, the child might do that because he is used to having the parent provide supervision" (emphasis mine)

---we can't have *that* now can we!
posted by Sapphireblue at 7:05 AM on February 2, 2001

To cast a further pall on this story, it should be noted that this particular school district hasn't had their stuff together for quite a while. At one point in the late 80s/early 90s they didn't have enough money to justify keeping the middle school open for the number of students enrolled, so they bussed the 6th, 7th and 8th graders into Ohio to go to school. As a result, those kids ended up not having the Pennsylvania history/civics component they needed, and were ostracised as the "poor kids from Midland" for two or three school years.

I can't wait to see the noon news today. There should be good coverage if they can get past all the Punxsatawney Phil crap.
posted by Dreama at 7:32 AM on February 2, 2001

It seems that most every point the administrators make against the father is nothing but bullhonkey.

"He needs to learn to be independent"? I think spending 2 hours a day with your father and the rest on your own can give a kid some pretty good experience with independence.

"We beleive this policy is not rigid"? Hey kid, you know that 1 hour a day you get to see your dad in? We've got to be cutting back on it a bit...

"Our primary interest is what's best for the child." Often times, school psychologists do an irreplaceable task and a lot of good for kids, especially in cases of emotional anxiety, spotting abuse, etc... I think they overstep their boundries a lot however (cases like this), they have no right to intrude into peoples lives under the guise of "doing what they think is best for the child." You are their educators, not their parents.
posted by tomorama at 11:08 AM on February 2, 2001

If the lunch period is the only time the kid gets to see his father during the week, then it's considerably less than an hour (probably 40 minutes tops) and it is hardly in the best interest of a child to deny them their sole opportunity to interface with a parent regardless of where or when they're doing that.
posted by Dreama at 11:29 AM on February 2, 2001

Oh my god, a father actually wants to be a parent to his son.

This just has to be stopped.

posted by teradome at 2:54 PM on February 2, 2001

I feel for the father, but what the administrators say makes some sense to me. I mean, lunch is where you connect with other kids at that age. And school is where you're supposed to be socially educated (to some extent). The father's taking that away in a sense by being there everyday.

That said, one day a week is pretty harsh. I'd say two on even weeks, three on odd. Anyone else feel me on this?

posted by SilentSalamander at 7:18 AM on February 3, 2001

The local (Pittsburgh area) media have swarmed on this story. General consensus is that once again, the Midland schools are whacked. Asking the man to cut down on visits perhaps, but threatening him with arrest if he doesn't? Not a good day for those administrators, let me tell you.
posted by Dreama at 11:03 AM on February 3, 2001

Here's another parent perspective. If my child is in that child's class, my child is exposed to that parent every single day that she goes to school. Has a background check been run on this man? Does he have any training in using his authority on children? (And, yes, he has authority because he's an adult in an environment where we've encouraged our children to cooperate with adults.) Who is this man and why should I trust him around my daughter? I can ask these questions about every adult regularly in the school and I expect good answers.

This isn't just about his relationship with his child. The other children are just as important and relevant.
posted by justme at 11:55 AM on February 3, 2001

Has a background check been run on this man?

Oh, for the love of sweet Jeezus Christ.

Could we get over this "everyone's a molester" shit?

Thinking that way, and trying to "protect" our children, has, IMNSHO, done *way* more damage to our kids then actual molesters *ever* have.

posted by baylink at 7:25 AM on February 5, 2001

And to further dissect that tired line, the man works at another school, as a custodian. So yes, he's got his clearances and he's duly officially allowed to be around children.

As if he's going to be doing anything to anybody in the middle of the cafeteria. Good grief.
posted by Dreama at 8:13 AM on February 5, 2001

Baylink, I agree with you to a large extent. But I'm not dumping my child with just any asshole who wants to be around children.
posted by justme at 8:17 AM on February 5, 2001

Dreama, he's going to talk and interact and influence.

I find it interesting that you both assumed I was worried about molestion. I'm actually thinking of a dogmatic, fundamentalism asshole with no credentials (other than ordination in a weird sect) who has wormed his way into our local school to "save the children for Jesus". He's well respected (gack!) and given free run of the school. But I'm obviously overreacting to a perceived threat. I need to chill and let the school system decide how best to raise my child and who they want to let participate in raising her.
posted by justme at 8:25 AM on February 5, 2001

I'm mildy suprised the father hasn't just said "Okay, fine. From now on, we won't eat in the cafeteria."

When I was going to elementary school, I walked, and almost every day I went home at lunch. The father has the right to take his child out of the school at lunch time if he so chooses, so why not do so?
posted by cCranium at 9:02 AM on February 5, 2001

he's going to talk and interact and influence.

God forbid children learn how to talk, interact, and avoid the undue influence of strangers! If they do that, how will we sell them on the idea that they need to be locked away in a gated subdivision, send their kids to private school, buy the Ford Excursion, and install Internet filter software on their computers if they realize that most people are perfectly normal (or at least would seem so if you had actually experienced dealing with any of them besides your teachers and parents).
posted by daveadams at 10:16 AM on February 5, 2001

So I guess it's okay for me to send my kindergartener unsupervised to the mall so she can interact with all the nice strangers. Maybe she'll learn something that will broaden her horizons. Yeah, right.

Did any of you notice the age group here? It's not a bunch of teenagers. This has been going on since the child started school. 20 other kids have had lunch with this father every fucking school day of their lives. Lunch is deliberately set up for social interaction between kids. You really think it's none of the other parents' business?

cCranium has the right idea. The father could get the kid and have a picnic in the car if he just wants time with HIS child.
posted by justme at 10:32 AM on February 5, 2001

Justme, where are you getting this dogmatic fundamentalist stuff? The guy is a janitor, not Jim Jones. He hasn't wormed his way into anything, he's freely exercised his right to sit with his kid and eat a sandwich. You are really afraid that if 8 year olds talk and interact with some adult other than you or their teachers over lunch, in a controlled atmosphere that they are going to be unduly influenced by some nefarious ideals?

What is this "perceived threat" and is it really embodied in a man who endeavors to simply spend as much time as he can with his own kid while not forcing his kid to miss out on socialising with his friends?

Kneejerk, kneejerk, no facts, no foundation, hysterical screed.
posted by Dreama at 10:53 AM on February 5, 2001

NO, no no - Justme was referring to someone who had "wormed his way into our local school" - the dogmatic fundamentalism thing was a reference to the man at HER local school, not a reference to this man in Philadelphia.
Dreama, your reaction was kneejerk - you obviously haven't been fully reading her posts. Her point is that someone who is not a school employee has full access to the kids at her local school, he is "given full run of the school" and wants to "save the children for Jesus".

posted by annathea at 11:59 AM on February 5, 2001

Read a little more carefully, please. We have "dogmatic fundamentalist stuff" running free in our local school. Different situation, same principle of access to the school, therefore the schoolchildren. The reality of my local situation is where I get this stuff, as I clearly stated. It's not kneejerk to assume that the people most closely involved may have information that never makes it into national news.

Parents should have a major say about who their young children are exposed to on a regular basis. Somewhere along 8 to 12 (depending on the kid) you loosen the reins until between 13 and 17 they exert almost total control over who they allow in their space. If you think that makes me a "hysterical screed", I think that belief makes you "never a parent of a 5-year-old" or a pisspoor one.
posted by justme at 12:06 PM on February 5, 2001

justme: A quick note. A screed isn't a personal insult, it's a type of rant. A definition.

I think justme's concerns are quite valid, but in this particular case I don't recall anything in the article being mentioned about the parents of other children having any concerns with this man eating lunch in the classroom.

And even though he works for the school board, it's as a night time janitor. That doesn't indicate to me that he requires background checks. I don't think from what I read that he's interested in anyone's child other than his own, but the concerns justme expresses are valid.

I think it's pretty stupid that a man be threatened with legal action for seeing his child, I think the man should be encouraged to continue doing so. But I don't think that another parent being concerned about who their children encounter in an environment that we have to assume is safe is.
posted by cCranium at 4:55 PM on February 5, 2001

cCranium, I know what a screed is. I didn't know I was being graded on grammar in a forum where lots of folks don't use complete words, much less complete sentences.

The article doesn't mention other parents but the school ignored daily-lunch-with-kid for 4 full years and suddenly it's a big issue. This is what happens when parents express concern about school issues. Administrators don't say "Ms. Jones objects to your daily presence and it is against the rules." Ms. Jones would probably sue if they did.
posted by justme at 5:23 PM on February 5, 2001

<meta pedantry=mild>
I didn't know I was being graded on grammar

You aren't, but in a forum such as this, communication is vital, and good grammar is a part of that. Anyway, you can't accuse cCranium of giving you a grammatical lesson just because he misunderstood your post because of an error you made.
posted by daveadams at 7:56 PM on February 5, 2001

justme, you said in one of your earlier comments 'If you think that makes me a "hysterical screed"...' I'm not marking you on grammar, I just wanted to make sure you knew you weren't being personally attacked by that particular comment. Sorry.
posted by cCranium at 6:48 AM on February 6, 2001

Whatever the situation in justme's school, it isn't germane here, because the cases are different, and it makes no sense to project those experiences onto this situation. This man does have state clearances (you don't work in a public school in Pennsylvania in any capacity at any time of day without them) and has not been complained about by other parents -- the school district has admitted as much. (I have the benefit of this being a local story for me, so I'm getting the follow-up reports.)

The person who made the complaint is the school shrink, on a broad worry about this father and a mother (underreported) who has breakfast with her fifth grader three times a week. The school shrink said that the parents were interfering with their childrens' ability to be properly socialised. (Whatever "being properly socialised" means in school shrink speak.)

And justme, for the record, I've got five kids and I'm very concerned about who and what influences them. So much so that I'll never put them in such a situation to start with -- they're homeschooled. But thank you for considering my reaction to your cooments-thru-filter as a reflection of my parenting abilities, that's just top-notch thinking.
posted by Dreama at 7:12 AM on February 6, 2001

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