Coney Island School to Reward Kids Who ‘Hold It In’

A controversial new policy at a Coney Island grammar school will see teachers handing out prizes to kids who don't take bathroom breaks.

The policy, aimed at keeping kids at their desks, was put into place in a fifth grade class last week after a teacher informed principal Greta Hawkins that students were taking too many trips to the bathroom.

But parents are up in arms about the measure. Luz Lozada, who has a child in the school, said:

"You're going to give [our kids] bladder problems and they're going to be wetting themselves during class."

One parent, who claims to have an autistic child with a bladder condition, demanded the policy be revoked because of the pain of ‘holding it in', writes Dan McLeod at the Brooklyn Daily.

"Eight hours a day for five days, three passes — that doesn't make any sense," said Sandra Leon.

"[My son] has a bladder problem and is getting surgery for it — and this is exacerbating it."

Students in the class allegedly get three bathroom vouchers a week. When a student needs to use the facilities, a voucher is lost. The students with all three vouchers left at the end of the week are given a prize.

According an e-mail, sent by teacher Stephanie Warner to Hawkins, outlines the plan:

"Only one person at a time, they must have the pass, they have three minutes, they must sign in and out properly, and they must ask me. If the procedures are not followed properly, they will receive a note home."

Warner proposed the policy because of incessant requests by pupils to relieve themselves.

"I can't think of anything else that would solve this problem," wrote Warner in the email.

"I am exasperated with the constant bathroom needs."

This is just one of many issues parents have about their principal. Some of these were recently brought before Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott at a town hall meeting, where they demanded Hawkins be removed from the school.

McLeod reports:

"Parents allege that Hawkins has threatened to report parents of misbehaving students to the city's Administration of Children's Services; assigned paraprofessionals hired to take care of children to menial office tasks; closed the school library to students; and failed to account for nearly $4,000 set aside for parent involvement activities during the 2010–2011 school year."

Despite the objections, Walcott refused to address them, stating that personnel issues were not suitable to discuss in public meetings. He did reveal, however, that his team was aware of the issues and are dealing with the problems.

"We'll always do our due diligence to ensure that the environment in any school in is an environment where our children can learn," he said.

01 23, 2012
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