The parking lots are for upperclassmen, and closing them during lunch was a matter of safety, Principal John Dwyer said.
"The main reason was just concerns about student safety -- drug use, that sort of thing," he said.
While no drugs have been found in the Foothill parking lot in two recent sweeps by police with drug-sniffing dogs, two pipes were turned up in a May 4 sweep last year.
"We simply weren't able to supervise the parking lot adequately," Dwyer said.
He also said there had been reports of bullying and harassment.
"I think they block the parking lot because they found people smoking and they were leaving a lot of trash around the area," said student Stephanie Yu, 16.
Some students have complained about the new rule, saying they used their cars to eat lunch because the outdoor dining areas are too full or that they went to their cars to take a break.
Students still can go to their cars during lunch, if, for example, they need a book; however, they have to stop in the office and pick up a pass on the way to their car.
Parents at the school's recent Friday forum said their children had complained they didn't have time to go back to the office on their way to their next class to drop off the pass. Dwyer said all they need to do is drop it off, and that no additional paperwork is needed.
Students who turn up late in the morning now have to head to the office for a warning. The crackdown on lateness, Dwyer said, was due to the number of students who were missing the start of the school day.
He said coming in late meant that students missed the beginning of the lesson.
"They do it on random days so you don't really know," said Jennifer Ren, a 10th grade student. She said she doesn't see lateness as a disturbance.
Neither does Yu, who said the new policy is "silly," pointing out there's only one road to school and that road is usually crowded.
"We usually don't start right away and they only come two to five minutes late," she said. "Their new policy now is if you're late, you get detention.... They still have this grace period going on."
The Foothill newsletter says the school hasn't set a solid date for that grace period to end.
Initially, according to the newsletter, there will be no consequences for being late. Students are advised to be at the school no later than 7:45 a.m.
So far, Dwyer said, there's been one test: an announcement over the school's public address system, asking teachers to lock their doors.
The students who were late, he said, were rounded up into a classroom where they had to sign their names before being allowed into class.
"Initially, we had a lot of kids over a very short time," Dwyer said. "We reduced that number colossally."
One parent at the forum offered a tongue-in-cheek approach to solve both the lateness problem and the ongoing backups as students arrive and parents drop their kids off. As punishment, the tardy students could be made to hold signs at the drop-off curb, urging people to pull forward. The embarrassment, some parents agreed, could stop the tardiness problem in short order.
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