Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan, Ed.D, disclosed to Saipan Tribune that parents of schoolchildren enrolled at Oleai Elementary School are now allowed access to the campus cafeteria.
She said the decision was reached by school management after considering all concerns raised by affected stakeholders.
The Oleai school had not permitted any parent from entering the cafeteria since Dec. 11, 2012, a day after two parents engaged in a heated argument in front of many students at the cafeteria.
The ban on parents' entry to the cafeteria affected many parents including Alan Villa, who has been assisting his daughter with special needs during breakfast in school.
He earlier told Saipan Tribune that the action taken by the school was unfair and not cited in the school's handbook of rules and policies.
Saipan Tribune interviewed Villa last Jan. 8 after he was refused entry by schoolteachers in the cafeteria. The parent claimed that since the memorandum took effect, he had been “turned away and harassed” thrice by a few schoolteachers each time he attempted to see and assist his daughter during meal breaks.
The commissioner confirmed with Saipan Tribune that she was informed by Oleai school principal Jacylene Parico that parents are now allowed entry to the cafeteria starting Jan. 7.
“Because of the concerns that were raised by a couple of parents, I called the Oleai principal and asked her about the incident. This incident was never reported to me because it was taken cared of and addressed [in the school level]. Since the opening of school [after the holidays], parents can come in into the cafeteria,” said Sablan.
The decision to allow parents access to the cafeteria is based on the condition that all parents must adhere to all the procedures put in place by the school which requires them to just stay and sit with their own children, avoid roaming the place, and should not engage in any discussion with other parents or students inside.
The commissioner supported the decision of the Oleai school when it temporarily disallowed parents' entry to the cafeteria, citing the measure was taken to protect every student on campus.
According to Sablan, she was informed by the Oleai principal that parents were notified about the decision through an announcement posted outside the cafeteria. A meeting with the parents-teachers-school association was also conducted where the same issue was discussed.
The school, it was learned, had also added staff to supervise students during meal breaks in an effort to prevent same incident from happening.
The commissioner believes that when a parent cannot commit that he/she will behave properly inside the school campus, these stakeholders then should not be allowed entry to the school to protect students and staff.
School administrators, she added, have all the authority to decide for their schools when it comes to ensuring “security and protection” of all students on campus.