A policy separating students at lunch based on their grades has sparked controversy at a high school in Tennessee.

During the lunch period, students who are making poor grades at La Vergne High School are separated from their classmates and forced to eat in a separate location.

"Number one, it's cutting their lunch down," parent Paul Morecroft said.

Morecroft's daughter, who has special needs, is in the 10th grade at La Vergne High.

He says he's concerned about students being separated during lunch based on academic standing.

"To me, it's considered separation, because you have your special needs kids and the kids getting the good grades on one side, and the kids getting below an 80 on the other side," said Morecroft, calling the policy a "civil rights violation and segregation, no doubt."

School leaders say La Vergne High has a split lunch period, half academic intervention to help students who may be struggling in a subject and half lunch.

"They are not segregating them in the traditional sense. If the kids' scores are low in certain areas, they are getting help in that area. If you want to label that segregation, then that's not the correct way to label it," said Rutherford County Schools spokesman James Evans.

Evans said this has been a practice at La Vergne High for two years as part of a statewide pilot program.

Some schools chose to work the intervention program into the regular school day, but La Vergne High has chosen the split-lunch concept with some students going to the auditorium for a learning lab first.

Ximena Jinenez, an 11th grade student, says she is all for extra intervention help.

"I don't think it's bad, it's good. We all need it. We need that little help in our lives," she said.

School officials say this concept during lunch has been a proven success. Two years ago, the graduation rate at La Vergne High School was about 77 percent, and it's now almost 90 percent.