A letter written to parents of students who attend Swegle Elementary School in Oregon did not sit well with some of the parents who received it.
The letter was written to explain about new classroom hours, times for the serving of breakfast, when school would begin, and other information about the upcoming school year, but Alisha Roemeling of the Statesman Journal reports the letter also informed parents that if their children were not picked up promptly at the end of the day, they would be reported to authorities.
District spokesman Jay Remy made a statement which acknowledged that the letter did come from the school, but that it had been sent in “error.” The school’s principal, Corina Valencia-Chavez, was on vacation and had not reviewed the correspondence before it was mailed. The letter had been written by an “office level employee.”
“It doesn’t strike the right tone,” Remy said of the letter. “There will be an apology.”
Also included in the letter is the directive that:
“We will be serving breakfast at 7:45 a.m. at no cost,” the letter said. Cafeteria will close at 8:15 a.m. for breakfast. If your child is running late, please feed them at home before sending them to school. Please do not drop your children off before this time. There will not be supervision. If children are dropped before 7:40 the staff will call the authorities.”
To this, Remy responded that the letter was neither accurate nor courteous.
“Any grain of truth to that is in an extreme case, like if parents are habitually not picking their kids up,” Remy said. “Even then, those actions (described in the letter) would not be taken.”
Chelsea Eichenauer, who has a 5-year-old who will be attending the school’s kindergarten in the fall, posted the letter she received on her Facebook page asking if anyone else thought the wording was too extreme, according to Rachel Bertsche of Yahoo!.
By that evening, Valencia-Chavez had sent a robo-call to parents apologizing. She confirmed the letter had been sent without the proper review and approval from her and added that if a parent was going to be late picking up his or her child, that parent should call the school and arrangements would be made. Calling DHS would only occur if a child is left and there is no communication between the parent and the school and the school staff has to go home to their own families.
None of this comes as a surprise, since a number of cases have been reported recently concerning child protection services detaining children whose parents left them unsupervised for short periods of time.
KPTV-Oregon says that Eichenauer was concerned because the letter did not specify how long the parent had when running late before the child would be turned over to the state. She continued by saying that her child would be extremely traumatized if he was taken away for the night.
The school’s handbook says that a child must be picked up within 15 minutes of the end of the school day or after school activity.