Although it's a daily activity for many parents and children, a Texas school principal has banned parents from walking kids home from school — and Bear Branch Elementary School has now threatened to press criminal charges against parents who do so.
Parents are also not allowed to drive to the school and park to pick up their youngsters. Parents have been instructed to put their children on the bus or wait in the car pick-up line, according to Isabelle Khoo of The Huffington Post Canada.
Since the new policy was put in place at the beginning of the academic year, many parents have reached the end of their ropes, saying this is a "ridiculous situation."
"People start lining up here about 2:30 p.m. for a 3:25 p.m. dismissal," one dad, Jeff Wendinger, told KPRC 2 News.
And a mother, Wendy Jarman, said that Principal Holly Ray is warning that arrests may occur for parents who violate the regulation. Jarmin, who lives within walking distance of the school, pulled her children out of Bear Branch and enrolled them in a private school.
Meanwhile, Principal Ray has called in Montgomery County constables to assist in enforcing the policy.
Jarman says many parents have been cited and threatened. But the Magnolia School District is in full support of the principal's order, and a spokesperson for the district said the rule was in place to create a safe procedure at the time of dismissal due to the adjacent proximity of a five-lane highway.
While some parents are not bothered by the system, others think the policy should not be administered by a school. Frank Young, father of a Bear Branch students, says the plan implies that parents are unable to discern what safest for their children. He, too, has removed his children from the school after Principal Ray was not moved by a parent petition with hundreds of signatures.
Texas isn't alone in placing limitations concerning pick up policies. In February, a UK principal put restrictions on parents who wore pajamas to pick up or drop off their children at school. Her reason was that it "set a bad example."
Kathryn Blackhurst, writing for The Blaze, reports that on Wednesday, a statement by the Magnolia Independent School District was issued to clarify some of the misunderstandings surrounding the issue.
"Our first priority at Bear Branch Elementary is to create a safe, nurturing learning environment for your child. With the support of the majority of our parents, the pick-up has been running more efficiently as we are able to dismiss car riders within 30 minutes and dismiss walkers at 3:50 or sooner as the drive line diminishes."
In response, some parents said that the lack of interest in parental input by the school and the district could be an example of "bully tactics." To make parents wait for long periods before they can take their children home was unacceptable to many mothers and fathers.
WND-TV's Douglas Ernst writes that Ms. Ray's "my way or else" management style has also caused some faculty and staff to leave the school. Parents are even being charged with trespassing when they violate the pickup method.
Parent Herald's Snow McDiggon reports that Ray would like for students who are within walking distance of the school to take the school bus.