Both my daughters attend a local elementary school. We are a military family and moved from Washington state to this area at the end of May. My husband deployed Aug. 15. My daughters are 7 and 5 years old, and my 5-year-old started kindergarten in August. That’s a lot of big changes in my 5-year-old daughter’s life, so the first few weeks of the school year, I went almost every day to have lunch with her. The last couple of weeks, I’ve gone maybe once or twice.
Now the principal of the school told me that they changed the rules for me, and I can only attend lunch twice per week. The rules are non-negotiable.
The principal said that my 5-year-old has peer issues. I asked if he had talked to her teacher about it and what did her teacher think. The principal answered, “No.” He had only spoken to the superintendent about it. I asked the principal why he thinks my daughter has issues, and he replied it’s because I am eating lunch with her all the time and that he saw us one time in the lunch room and my daughter was sitting on my lap. According to the principal, I am excessively over-involved.
He added that lunch time is the only time for kids to interact with their peers, but I interrupted him and pointed out that during their 30-minute lunch breaks, the kids have to be quiet every other five minutes, which cuts interaction time down to 15 minutes. I told him that I had been attending lunch a lot at first, but have only gone once or twice a week recently.
I told the principal that my daughter needs her mother close and benefits from lots of hugs. She has plenty of friends outside the school and inside her classroom as well. But he still said the new rule is that I cannot attend more than two lunches per week. This is a new rule they just made up, and it is non-negotiable.
We are talking about a 5-year-old here. It’s her first time in school, and her daddy just deployed. Because of this, she needs me even more than before. All the principal could offer then was the superintendent’s phone number.
I believe I should be able to eat lunch with my children without prejudice by school staff and have the same rights as anyone else.
— Nicole Merrifield