Bear Branch Elementary School in Magnolia, Texas, is losing students — and it has nothing to do with the standard of teaching. The school principal, Holly Ray, has decided that parents who walk on school grounds are trespassing, meaning anyone who walks their kids to and from school could, effectively, be arrested. Wow. Way to make parents feel welcome, right?
Under the new policy, which is being enforced by Montgomery County Constables and has resulted in several parents being threatened with arrest if they set foot on school property, students must now get the bus home from school or find their parents in a long car-pickup line.
Unsurprisingly some parents have decided to pull their kids from Bear Branch, including Wendy Jarman, who has now enrolled her children in a private school. She lives in the neighborhood behind Bear Branch and used to walk her kids to school but is no longer allowed to do so under the new rule.
Of course the safety of the students should be the paramount concern at every school, but there has to be some element of common sense. What could be safer than a parent picking up their child in person? It’s really hard to see the principal’s point here. Does she expect parents to cause trouble on the school grounds? By making it so clear that she thinks she knows better than the parents what is best for their kids, she’s alienating a lot of people.
When parents don’t have trust in the school principal, it’s the students who end up suffering. It’s lousy for staff morale, and a high turnover of teaching staff can be unsettling and confusing for students. If a situation gets so bad that students and teachers are leaving, what effect does that have on the kids who are left? A child could lose her best friend and her favorite teacher within the same week, which is surely the last thing any principal wants.
If this really is all about “a safe dismissal policy” (and not about control), some consideration has to be given to the fact that every year in the U.S., almost 400 kids aged 15 and under are killed when they’re hit by a vehicle. Do we really want more cars lining up at our school gates?
Of course schools need to have rules in place to ensure the safety and well-being of their students. But parents are an important part of the picture, and making them feel excluded from school grounds is the quickest route to conflict.
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