By Contributing Writer Gabrielle Kleiner, ’24
About two weeks ago, J-D junior Kate Saluti passed her driving test and got her license. Having access to a family car, this also meant she could now drive herself to school. Thankfully, Kate had heard from senior friends that parking at J-D High School (for juniors and seniors) meant obtaining a parking pass. However, many other junior drivers were not aware of this policy coming into school this fall.
“I have no knowledge [of the passes]. They don’t advertise it at all. My knowledge is that they need to advertise it more,” says junior Megan Keough.
Last fall, and for many years previous years under Mr. Gasparini, there was a meeting about parking passes for prospective drivers. However, both Principal Gregory Lawson and School Resource Officer Mike Norton confirmed one wasn’t held this year.
Although it would be easy to blame the administration, the parking pass information was sent out, only just in a packet this year. Also, as Lawson pointed out, “It’s been posted on the website.”
Now, if you’re like Saluti (and probably the majority of students), you either immediately gave the packet to your parents, or trashed it entirely. But there is still hope to get a parking pass.
The duty of J-D High School parking safety not only falls on the administration, but also primarily on Officer Norton. He’s the guy you want to go to. He’ll tell you the rules and point you on your way to a parking pass packet: a shelf of papers in the main office on the wall directly next to the door.
“The reason we do [parking passes] is because it’s a privilege. It’s not a right, and it’s really not that big of a process,” says Norton. “You’ve got to have good grades, and you can’t be driving through the lot like an idiot.”
Along with it being a privilege, it’s really just about student safety: “It’s important for us to be able to control safety and access and availability,” says Principal Lawson.
“It’s really more about what happens to the car – flat tire, or if somebody bumps it, or runs into it – or, I’ve had several kids leave their car running or leave the lights on. So instead of having to go through all this work to figure out whose car it is, I can take the tag number and immediately go find the student,” says Officer Norton.
Many students have been parking without a pass, and they’re worried they may be punished for not knowing about the pass. “I don’t think we’ve gone to that extreme yet, because it’s still kind of early,” says Principal Lawson. “The first thing we would do would be to figure out whose car it is and have a conversation. It would be a conversation and then a teachable moment, like here’s the process; here’s the paperwork; let’s get at it. We have a responsibility to teach everybody.”
After an administrative safety meeting, it’s been decided that for the time being, parking pass warning sheets will be put on cars parked in the J-D lots without passes visible. For juniors like Saluti, this should be no problem as long as the pass is visible on the front mirror.
Multiple warning sheets could result in detention. “If I go to the administration with [information on a student repeatedly parking without a pass], the administration can take that privilege away,” says Officer Norton.
If you think losing your ability to park on school property is scary, here’s what you need: to get a parking pass. Outlined by the parking pass packet you’ll need a license, vehicle registration, insurance, and your parent’s signature.
So, how soon do you really need a pass? How long will this period of acquitting last? According to Officer Norton: “Last year [the grace period to get a pass] was two weeks.”
Principal Lawson is currently in the process of selecting a grace period deadline. Although this could come as late as winter, Norton suspects tentative dates to be fast approaching, potentially within the end of the month. So if you haven’t gotten a parking pass yet, time is ticking.