Newtown Middle School officials now are requiring students, who want to hang out with friends in the center of town after school rather than ride the bus home or be picked up, to obtain a signed note from their parents granting them permission, according to an e-mail sent late Thursday.
"Our community members have been contacting me all week because several groups of our students avoided near-misses with motorists, as they excitedly darted across the streets to see friends," middle school Principal Diane Sherlock said in an email sent to parents. "The previous week we had a serious police incident. This situation is an exceedingly dangerous one, and I am afraid if we do not take this sitatuion seriously, we will all be dealing with a tragedy."
The school has had a long standing practice of allowing students to be "walkers" on Friday, which has encouraged throngs of seventh and eighth graders to hang out in the center of town.
A couple of weeks ago, among several middle and high school students, which led to arrests of juveniles. Last Friday, more than 300 students remained in the center of town, according to Sherlock.
The change in practice to now require a note from students who want to remain in the center of town brings the Friday routine in line with every other day of the week when students also must present a note before being allowed to not board a bus or be picked up by a parent or guardian, officials said.
Police said they raised the issue and discrepancy in practice to Sherlock.
Today, Sept. 23 will be the first day of the change and will not apply to students who regularly walk home from school and will be issued special laminated passes for daily use, according to the principal. Every Friday going forward, students who are not regular walkers also must present a new note from their parents or guardians granting them permission to remain in town, Sherlock said.