In Middleton, Wisconsin one school district has a policy that allows High School students to eat their lunch off-campus. This is a common if not widely observed policy of many districts across the country. However, in Middleton, Wisconsin school district leaders are now acting like they regret the policy.
In 2014 a small group of students began inviting their friends to meet them in a local public park, where their parents would provide them with a hot lunch and a local Christian leader would deliver an inspirational message. What began as a meeting of a few friends has grown to be a movement that some 450 students (about 25% of the schools population)! It’s this popularity that has now likely caused the school district some consternation, because they’ve recently begun denying parents the right to meet with their own children… in a public park!
Middleton-Cross Plains school district officials are doing more than urging parents to stop serving “Jesus Lunches” to high school students at a public park every Tuesday.
They have been physically trying to block the parents from using the park.
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School officials set up cones to block parents from using the parking lot at Fireman’s Park, near Middleton High School, on Tuesday, according to Phil Stamman, an attorney who is representing the mothers involved with the Jesus Lunch program…
“They coned up the parking lot, waited there and confronted my clients and told them to leave,” Stamman said. “(The parents) responded how I recommended. They walked right past them. The superintendent repeatedly tried to confront them. He was the first one. But they just moved on.”
Now the district administrators can’t seem to articulate exactly what it is that they have a problem with…
Superintendent Donald Johnson and Principal Stephen Plank called the off-campus religious gatherings “divisive” and they want the weekly non-denominational meetings shut down.
“We believe that religious or political events do not have a place in our school or on our campus, except when sponsored by a student group in accordance with our rules, which require prior approval,” the pair wrote in an email sent to parents on April 12.
However, in the very next breath the district tried to argue that their opposition to the meetings had nothing to do with religious beliefs and everything to do with “food safety.”
The district accused the moms of violating all sorts of rules — especially in the area of food preparation. They implied the parents are putting their children in danger by hosting the weekly picnics.
“The policies in question include food handling, visitors to campus, and expectations around student organized events,” the administrators wrote. “We are in no way interested in opposing religious practice in otherwise legal circumstances.”
So which is it? Is it that religious events are “divisive”? Or is it that the district is worried about the parents handling food for the students?
I’d bet the food handling excuse has nothing to do with the school districts complaints. The group of students and parents have been meeting for over a year now without district complaint, and if any parents of the regularly attending students didn’t like it, they could simply tell their children not to attend! Once again, the government schools respond in the most illogical and foolish way possible, but I guess we can’t expect logic or intelligence from the government.
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