Lodi School Changes First-Grade Field Trip Due to Homeless Issues

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LODI -- A Lodi elementary school is taking a detour from an annual school field trip due to issues with the homeless.

During playtime for Kayla Muñoz and her daughter at Lodi's Emerson Park, Muñoz kept a watchful eye on her daughter. She said she is mindful of the homeless who stay there.

"Before then fights and bad words flying here and there. It was not very, very good for them," she said.

A number of parents FOX40 spoke to say they've seen needles, drug use and graffiti at parks throughout the city. Now that concern is hitting the classroom.

In a notice sent out last week, Reese Elementary School parents were notified that "due to the growing homeless population" first-graders will no longer visit Emerson Park for a Wednesday field trip.

"The homeless issue going on right now is not exactly something that you know can be hidden from the kids because it’s statewide," said parent Nick Koenig.

The school's principal said the first-graders field trip was not canceled but just changed. The kids will still visit the Lodi Public Library but their annual stop at the park will not happen.

School officials say the reason they're not going to the park anymore is due to needles that have been found there.

The principal added the memo was written by a teacher, who sent the message home to her students. He stressed it did not come from administrators.

City Councilman Mark Chandler says the school did not notify the city of educators' concerns.

"I think there’s a great opportunity for us to work together to manage this problem," Chandler told FOX40.

Chandler said the city, churches and other organizations have been working to get more people out of city parks and into homes.

"We've taken over 100 people off the streets, got them into programs or reunited with family over the last year," Chandler explained.

Muñoz herself said she has noticed a change and feels a little safer being at Emerson Park.

"Nice because this is a kids' environment. This is where the kids are supposed to be having fun," she said.

The Lodi Unified School District would not provide additional comment.

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