Wisconsin School District at odds with parents over off-campus 'Jesus Lunch'

obey the rules
From News800: Middleton-Cross Plains School District officials would like a gathering known as the “Jesus Lunch” held near the high school to stop.
The lunches, held each Tuesday in Fireman’s Park adjacent to Middleton High School, have reportedly been drawing hundreds of students each week to eat food provided by parents and talk about the Christian faith.
“In one year what started out with less than 40 kids has grown into a lunch that serves almost 400 kids or a fourth of Middleton High School,” a video posted online about the event says. “What makes this even more amazing is that while we provide the lunches, it’s the students who bring their friends and discuss a different biblical topic each week among themselves. It is entirely voluntary.”
“What it’s all about is some mothers, they bring a lot of food to the park by the school and then people eat it and they also have bible stuff there as well,” Middleton senior Logan Kossel said.

Administrators Plank and Johnson

Administrators Plank and Johnson


In a letter sent to parents Tuesday, high school Principal Steve Plank (contact Steve here) and District Administrator Don Johnson (contact Don here) said that the city leases the park, making it part of school property and subject to school rules about both parent- and student-organized activities. Plank said the event violates school and district policy because parents are not following food safety standards, are not checking in as visitors to the school, and the event seems to be adult-organized and not initiated by students.
“At some level we want to be very direct and say, ‘This is not approved by the school district,’ and I think right now they are saying, ‘We don’t care and we believe we have the right to come in because it’s a park even though you’ve leased it,” Johnson said.
“The parents contend that it is their First Amendment right to provide free food and hold a religiously oriented event on this property during school hours,” the letter to parents says. “The district believes that we have jurisdiction of this leased property, which is part of our campus. They have a First Amendment right and a right to access facilities after hours. All those are accurate, but we don’t necessarily allow the Hindu community and the Buddhist community and Islamic community and Wiccans and others to come in and proselytize and bring their message to our students” Johnson said.
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. In addition, many students have conveyed to us their concern about a group offering free food to incentivize participation in a religious event on campus. The result of which has a divisive impact on our learning community. As such, we will continue to work with the parent group to find an amicable resolution.”
“There are some students that when they know this day is coming, they will leave school early. (We) have some students that staff will find sitting in the hallway crying,” Plank said. “A lot of students feel that it’s not OK to have religious affiliation on school grounds, and other students also think not everyone has to participate in it. They’re not being forced to, so it’s not an issue so there’s kind of a clash there,” Kossel said.
The organizers of the lunch issued a statement to News 3. “We would like to thank you for this opportunity to hear our story, as the Middleton School District has not yet approached us to discuss what we do or how the Jesus Lunch began. We have invited them to attend, but as of date they have declined. The question here is not us being in opposition to the school, but rather that we have a right to be in Fireman’s Park. Although the school district contends that it is school grounds because they have a lease, the public still has a right to use the park during school hours.”
Organizers said the park can be used by the public. “By law, the lease agreement between the city and the School District of Middleton does not privatize the park,” the statement said.
Organizers said the City of Middleton acknowledges their rental agreement for the Fireman’s Park pavilion.
“Our mission statement for Jesus Lunch is ‘food for the body, nutrition for the soul.’ Our goal each week is to share a biblical truth. Students who come to lunch are not required to listen to or participate in the 3-5 minute message,” the statement said.
Organizers said the Jesus Lunch began in the fall of 2014 with a small group of our children and their friends. “Students that attend Jesus Lunch have expressed their desire for Jesus Lunch to continue,” the statement said. “The Jesus Lunch has become the highlight of the week for students and those involved!”
City Administrator Mike Davis

City Administrator Mike Davis


Middleton City Administrator Mike Davis told News 3 Wednesday afternoon that the lease agreement the city has with the district allows “contemporaneous use” by members of the general public “from time to time.”
Davis said the district has the right to enforce its rules in the park, “as long as they don’t conflict with the interests of the general public.” The group has legal representation, and plans to hold the lunch again next week. District officials said they are looking for an amicable solution.
DCG

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Hadenoughalready
Guest

“contemporaneous use” by members of the general public “from time to time.”
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contemporaneous
Tell this school principal to shove it!

weezy
Guest
weezy

These kids are not doing anything violent or bad. The parents are involved because the students would have said no to the parents but instead wanted them there. The school should stay out of the lunch business since the mother’s are experienced picnic packers. Plank and Johnson? Leave them alone!!!! They are doing just fine interacting amongst themselves in a discussion group. Would you like it if this were a gang members group making violent plans?

Auntie Lulu
Guest
Auntie Lulu

What a crock . . . that the school district would bring up “parents following safe food standards.” Most of us survived our Mother’s full time preparation of the food we ate. As far as the crying child in the hallway . . . one of live’s agonies is “we don’t get to participate in everything–the learning lesson here is JUST GET USED TO IT.” I would like to live in White House for say six months, just to see how it runs, is it fun, etc. . . . I doubt that that little excursion will ever happen, and… Read more »

Dan
Guest
Dan

What a crock is right. Atheists or proponents of Darwinisn would most likely be shown every curtesy by these two jackasses, as engaging non-religious expressions of free speech. How is it that the enemies of our culture feigning hurt feelings are privileged not only to freely absent themselves from our culture, customs, and traditions, but suppress or outlaw them all as a matter of fairness? This has gone on way too far at this point.

Dr. Eowyn
Admin

Betcha the city and Middleton-Cross Plains School District officials would never prohibit an Allah or Muhammad or Buddha or even Satan Lunch.

Hadenoughalready
Guest

You’ve got THAT right!

TrailDust
Admin
TrailDust

What will it take to deal with the increasing number of officials who act this way?

Hadenoughalready
Guest

Pitchforks, torches and lots of rope.

greenworxx
Guest
greenworxx

And, add tar and feathers!

Hadenoughalready
Guest

We can reserve that for the over-70 crowd…lol

Glenn47
Guest
Glenn47

So I gather the parents help pay the taxes for that property. The school should get down on their knees and thank the Lord. These kids are doing something so worthy and voluntarily.
It sounds like what they really hate is the fact they are losing control of what to plant in the children’s brains. That the kids are able to think for themselves.
I would love a follow up on just who are these leaders and their beliefs.