An altercation between two parents in front of students at the cafeteria of the Oleai Elementary School resulted in the school banning all parents and guardians from the cafeteria since last month.
That has prompted criticism from other parents who wish to continue to have access to the cafeteria so they could monitor and ensure that their children eat their breakfasts and lunches.
Based on the memorandum of interim Oleai principal Jacelyn Parico, all parents and guardians of Oleai school students will not be allowed to enter the cafeteria during school hours.
Saipan Tribune learned that the two parents' altercation that prompted the new directive occurred on Dec. 10.
Calls to Parico were not returned yesterday.
A parent of a student from Oleai, Alan Villa, labeled the ban on all parents inside the cafeteria as “improper” and does not conform to the school's handbook of policies. Worse, he said, affected stakeholders were not consulted on the decision.
Villa has two children enrolled at Oleai, one of whom is a special child in sixth grade. Villa has been assisting his daughter for many years now when breakfast is served as early as 7am.
“I've been doing this in the cafeteria for many years and this is the first time I was not allowed access to the place. It's disappointing that such a directive was issued without even consulting the affected parents about their opinion and views. This is not even cited in the school's handbook!” the frustrated father told Saipan Tribune.
According to Villa, since the memorandum took effect, he has been “turned away and harassed” thrice by a few schoolteachers each time he attempts to assist his daughter during meal breaks.
Villa said he witnessed the incident on Dec. 10 when two parents engaged in a heated argument in front of the students. Unfortunately, he said, instead of counseling the parents involved in the incident, the principal made the decision to “punish” all guardians and parents.
Based on Parico's memorandum, “we have teacher/staff that are assigned inside the cafeteria to supervise and to monitor students. We would like to keep our campus safe for everyone, most especially our students.”
Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan, Ed.D, came to the defense of the school principal yesterday and affirmed her support for the principal and teachers who made the decision.
Sablan said school administrators have all the right and authority to decide for their schools when it comes to ensuring the security and protection of all students on campus. Although she has no personal knowledge about the incident in Oleai, Sablan is convinced that the ban was issued with the best interest of schoolchildren and staff in mind.
Sablan expressed disappointment over the unacceptable misbehavior of some parents, who should be role models for students. Differences between and among parents and adults, she said, should not be ironed out in school. “We don't need those problems in our schools.”