A busy stretch of McCallum Road.

High School Students Not Allowed to Cross this Road

A reader writes that her high school student son is not allowed to cross the street you see here:

Dear Free-Range Kids: So, my son is going to Summer School. I got a note from the school district transportation department just now with information about Summer School busing and you have to see this. I took a screen shot to prove it because it is too crazy.

This bus is ONLY for high schoolers. Kids going into 10-12th grade!
 Inline image 1
Do you see that in all caps and bold?! With an exclamation point!
STUDENTS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO CROSS McCALLUM!
McCallum is just a street.
It’s not a highway.
It’s just a STREET.
It’s not even a particularly busy street at 2:22 in the afternoon and it has a MEDIAN.
The reader asked her son his thoughts. He responded:
“I can’t cross the street?! What is this?! Last I checked, it was high school, not kindergarten! Most kids my age have drivers’ licenses, but we still aren’t allowed to cross the street without an adult?! I know to look both ways before I step off the curb and, at 6’2″, I’m taller than both my parents and any crossing guard I’ve ever known. This is absurd.”
Concluded the mom:
I know, I know, this is just the school district wanting no responsibility if the kids get run over — but that’s absurd.
 Concluded me: Yup. We have a society conspiring to cripple our kids with “precaution,” which is always billed as, “for their own good.” – L.
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A busy stretch of McCallum Road. Watch out for crazy drivers rules. 

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39 Responses to High School Students Not Allowed to Cross this Road

  1. Workshop June 26, 2017 at 3:57 pm #

    So if the student gets off the bus, walks just a bit until the bus moves on, and then crosses . . .

    Now, I kinda understand what the school is doing, provided the traffic laws are the same as where I live in Indiana.

    If there is a median where traffic is not allowed (as opposed to a middle turn lane), then the drivers on the opposite side of the road do not have to obey the flashing red lights of the bus (nor pull over for emergency vehicles, etc.) So I can kinda understand that the school doesn’t want to allow crossing there.

    But, then the usual solution is to have a bus drive down the other side of the street, not all-cap the parents. There are loads better options to let people know of the rules change when dealing with medians than this.

  2. Dienne June 26, 2017 at 4:10 pm #

    It amazes me what high school students are not allowed to do now. My older daughter (age 15, going into sophomore year of high school) is going for a week of engineering camp next month at University of Illinois. I went to camps there when I was in junior high and high school and we were allowed to roam free as long as we were in the dorm by 10:00 p.m. for junior high, 11:00 p.m. for high school (in fact, we had classes in different buildings all over campus, so we kind of had to roam free). But in the parent packet for my daughter, there’s this lovely little tidbit: “At no time will campers be permitted outside of the dorm or other building without supervision.” So when I was 12 I was capable of wandering over and getting a pizza or reading on the quads or whatever, but my 15 year old isn’t. Kids these days!

    So do kids magically acquired these kids of skills on their 18th birthdays now?

  3. James Pollock June 26, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

    “It’s just a STREET.
    It’s not even a particularly busy street at 2:22 in the afternoon and it has a MEDIAN.”

    And therein lies the problem.
    When a school bus stops and displays lights, traffic in both directions are required to stop, and not proceed until it is safe to do so (safe for the little house apes, not the driver(s)). BUT on divided roadways, only traffic on the same side of the roadway is required to stop. Traffic on the other side of the divided roadway may continue unimpeded.

    They had a problem with kids and cars intersecting on a stretch of highway that extends from downtown Portland, through the industrial district, and eventually down the Columbia river to the ocean.
    THEIR solution was to change the speed limit on the highway from 55 to 25. All the time. Producing a NEW hazard, as people who know the speed limit will drop slow down, and people who don’t know continue to drive at highway speeds on the highway.

  4. JLM June 26, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

    And think of all those tragedies here in Australia where traffic just continues as normal whether there’s a bus stopping or not.

    Wait… what tragedies? Oh, that’s right, our kids just learn a few safety rules and move on.

  5. ATXmom June 26, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

    Seems to me the school has no jurisdiction over this anyway. I would just ignore it and move on!

  6. Theresa Hall June 26, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

    It the way it always is.until they’re living on their own no chance of being an adult. And from the stories I heard about college kids I heard adults might not be the right word for them. It may be stupid but that how it is.

  7. Kimberly June 26, 2017 at 6:21 pm #

    It has to do with funding from the state. Texas pays for transportation of students if
    1. They live more than 2 miles away
    2. They have to cross a 4 lane or bigger road
    3 They have to cross a road that has a limit 40 mph or over
    4. They have to walk along a road with a limit of 40 mph or over and no sidewalk

    If it doesn’t meet that criteria either there is no bus or that part of the bus cost must be paid with local money. I know my district has actually positioned schools so that most students run into more than 1 of these conditions so that all bussing is paid for by the state. If they allow a student to cross a 4 lane road from the bus even one like that they would be in violations of the conditions. I suspect the bus goes up one side of the road and down the other with stops on both sides. I live off a similar road – and see busses from both directions picking up kids going to the same school.

    It is a waste and we need to update the laws but honestly, have you seen our insane, bigoted, misogynist state officials. They are more concerned with which bathroom the kids use, stealing money from the teachers’ pension fund, and paying billions of dollars to torture students and students with a 4-hour test that is more important than all the rest of the year of learning.

  8. Donald June 26, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

    “This is for their own good” is a common lie. It’s actually more common than, “The check’s in the mail”. What they really mean is, “I’m creating this rule for MY own good”.

  9. Mark Roulo June 26, 2017 at 8:33 pm #

    “So do kids magically acquired these kids of skills on their 18th birthdays now?”

    Kids who join the US Marines at age 17 (which they can do with a high school diploma and parental permission) magically acquire these kinds of skills a year early!

  10. James Pollock June 26, 2017 at 11:45 pm #

    There is a simple, direct solution to the problem of not liking the school’s school-bus rules.

    Don’t put your kid(s) on the bus.

    (I’m not saying it doesn’t create other problems… just that it solves, completely and decisively, this particular one.)

  11. Beth June 27, 2017 at 8:52 am #

    Maybe it’s because my computer for some reason won’t load the image, but what does this have to do with the bus? The way I read it, the bus was being offered so that the kids wouldn’t have to cross this street. No?

  12. BL June 27, 2017 at 9:24 am #

    If the students cross the road, do they end up on a sex offenders’ registry?

  13. jimc5499 June 27, 2017 at 9:35 am #

    The Navy as well Mark. I put on E-5 two weeks before my 21st birthday having gone in at 17.

    I’m inclined to go along with Kimberly on why this is being done.

    ATXmom, I don’t know how it is now, but, when I was in school we were told that we had to follow school rules from the time we left our house in the morning until we returned in the evening. I went to a grade school that was two blocks from my house. In between the school and my house was a playground. It was literally cross the street from the school, cut across the playground and cross the street to my house. We actually had a teacher that would watch to see if I crossed the street to my house and then come back to the playground. If I stopped at the playground, which I was allowed to do a warning note was sent to my parents. I got to where I would cross the street go up one step, turn around and go to the playground. We had some family issues at the time and my Mother didn’t need the hassle from the school.

  14. shdd June 27, 2017 at 9:37 am #

    I am allowing my 15 year old daughter (rising sophomore) to walk a mile home after camp. She is staff this year and my feeling is if she is old enough to get paid she is old enough to walk home. She was worried about getting stopped my police or noisy neighbors in Montgomery County, MD. I said she could wear her “staff” shirt and carry her cell phone in her hand once she is off school property. She could be fired for using her cell phone during camp hours.

    She also said she would pick up litter on the way and put it in the garbage cans. I have started doing that myself on my commute.

  15. Eric S June 27, 2017 at 1:25 pm #

    “This is absurd.” You got that right kid.

    Cross the street. What are they going to do to you? Give you detention? lol

    I’m glad some kids are smarter than adults. I hope the new generation is smart enough to make the new norms, not so normal. Speak up. You have rights too.

  16. Alanna Mozzer June 27, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

    This relates to what I have come to call “snack creep.” It seemed to me that morning snack time started with preschoolers and kindergarteners. I have been in schools as a substitute teacher where I have seen kids as old as fifth grade getting snack time in the morning. Snack time makes sense for younger children because they have smaller stomachs and may need to eat more often. But, in my opinion, most fourth and fifth graders should not need a snack time. What bothers me about this is that this is another way of treating older kids the same way as we treat younger kids, and also it seems that this morning snack time has replaced morning recess. When I was in grades one through five, we did not have a snack in the morning. We had a fifteen minute morning recess. I call it “snack creep” because it seems to creep up the grade levels. In only one elementary school did it seem to me to make sense for all of the kids no matter what grade they were in to have a morning snack, and this was a school that on a daily basis was providing a special low cost lunch for senior citizens in their community. The kids would eat lunch after the senior citizens did which meant they often did not have lunch until one or one thirty in the afternoon. For them it made sense to have a morning snack.

    I have mentioned this because I feel that there is a strong tendency in our society to take what we think is good for tiny children and automatically assume it must be good for everybody.

  17. lightbright June 27, 2017 at 2:20 pm #

    I’ve been able to talk people out of a lot of ridiculousness by promising to indemnify them. “Look, if I put it in writing that I won’t sue you for any adverse events from my teenager crossing McCallum, will you exempt her/him from the rule?

  18. James Pollock June 27, 2017 at 3:04 pm #

    “Cross the street. What are they going to do to you? Give you detention? lol”

    Well, “they” might drive a multi-ton vehicle through the space occupied by your body at the time.
    Oh, sure, you say “surely a high-school age human being is capable of telling if there’s a risk of this or not. You (meaning me) are being paranoid in the extreme and exhibiting worst-first thinking.” and you’d be correct that, as a high-school age human being I crossed many a street in a way contrary to school rules. But I can point to several cases of high-school-aged persons being struck by cars because they were attempting to cross a street in a way that did not grant them the right-of-way, along with a note that YMMV.

    In a more serious answer to your question, I would hazard a guess that the first offense might result in a warning, and further offenses after being warned might result in being prohibited from riding the bus, which, as noted above, solves the problem conclusively but may create other ones (such as: “how far away is the school? That sounds like a long walk.”, “so now your parents have to get up early to drive you to school? I bet they like THAT.”, or “wow, THAT goes on your school record? And the college you wanted to go to checks for that sort of thing? Ouch.”.

  19. Diane June 27, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

    @Alanna, even the constant snacks for little ones seems to be getting more excessive! I remember carrying around crackers and such when my eldest was a toddler, even if we were only out and about a short time, because “everyone” seemed to do it. (He didn’t need to be eating on demand like that at age 2, especially empty carbs.) I like to think I’m a bit wiser with my 3rd kid, who is 2 yrs old now. I don’t pack him a snack for library hour, or the 90 minutes in the gym nursery. Now if we’re planning to be at the park before, during, and after lunch hour, then yes, a picnic lunch is called for.

  20. Donald June 27, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

    I think Kimberly is right. This is more about who pays for what. This isn’t about the competence (or lack of) about crossing the road.

  21. Kenny Felder June 27, 2017 at 6:21 pm #

    I don’t think they have any way to enforce that.

  22. Papilio June 27, 2017 at 6:51 pm #

    In what universe is forbidding pedestrians to cross the street a better solution than lobbying for a pedestrian crossing between the school and the place where the school bus for said school stops, IOW a place where you KNOW people will be crossing the street?

  23. bmj2k June 27, 2017 at 8:44 pm #

    Society gets stupider as lawyers get richer.

  24. San June 27, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

    Everytime I see news from Texas, I think for my self: Thank god I don’t live there

  25. lollipoplover June 27, 2017 at 11:43 pm #

    We had an incident 2 years ago with walking to school when a school official made the children walk on the sidewalk and not in the street. The sidewalk had drainage issues and flooded, so the kids walked around the flooded parts and in the street. They got back on the sidewalk again, but this school official said they MUST walk on the sidewalk only even though their shoes would be soaked!

    I wrote a note for my daughter to show, saying she had my permission to use her judgment and not walk in large puddles and unless the official was going to supply her with dry shoes. She never had a problem again. They also don’t have anyone in this postion anymore- the kids are on their own and do fine figuring out ways to deal with weather related problems.

  26. Diane June 28, 2017 at 12:00 am #

    @San, it’s not so bad here! Besides, stuff like this gives us something to complain about besides the heat and mosquitoes. 😀

  27. sexhysteria June 28, 2017 at 12:15 am #

    A great way to make teens feel confident!

  28. gap.runner June 28, 2017 at 12:49 am #

    High school students are not allowed to cross a street? Seriously? No wonder my German friends laugh at Americans and their rules for kids. A lot of German kids start taking the train or public bus to school by themselves in 5th grade and have to cross busy streets. People here learn at an early age that cars have the right of way over pedestrians, so even 6-year-olds walking to school know to cross the street either at a light or zebra crossing (specially-marked crosswalk).

    My son (age 18) leaves next week to do a summer internship about 250 km away. He will take over the apartment that my husband used when he had to work there. When my son wants to come home on weekends, he will take the train and have to change trains in Munich. The worst thing that would happen is he would miss his connection and have to wait up to an hour for the next train. He has been taking the train short distances by himself since age 10 and longer ones since age 14-15. In that time he also crossed busy streets without adult supervision. I did not keep my son in a bubble his whole life his first 17 years and suddenly expect him to know how to ride a train (or bus) and cross a street at 18.

  29. Mark Headley June 28, 2017 at 3:12 am #

    Wildly at odds w/ the rules, expectations, in my upbringing. including; walking to/from schools/bus stops often in rain, snow; a 9:30 curfew premised on presumption even young minors could be out/about w/out adults before 9:30pm; my paper delivery route; my job 3 summers working in Town parks, landscaping, w/ periods where supervisor shuttling elsewhere; making money too (as a minor) babysitting, shovelling snow; largely left to fend for ourselves getting home from school sports, other after-school activities, Boy Scout mtgs; biking/walking around town to visit friends; regularly walking my dogs — as i promised would be my responsibility when my parents acquiesced to adopting my mutt soulmate ”Luke” in particular. . . . . Thank goodness, as my parents each worked full-time jobs and i was a very active, interactive child, teen. my parents agreed to letting me go backpacking, hiking, kayaking, canoeing — on my own, w/ other teens, sometimes on excursions led by other adults.

    I skipped 7th grade and, w/ my birthday in July, turned 18 only after I had been away at college my freshman year, followed by weeks at my summer job evenings at McDonald’s — including after regularly closing up at midnight.

    The issue my parents would have had w/ authorities would have been truancy had my younger brother or I not braved the elements, roads, as needed, to get to school, the school bus. And back.

    I recall no issue w/ my going away to Yale my freshman yr, nor any suggestion any other college I interviewed w/ would have had any issue w/ my attending as a minor. Never occurred to me I would encounter any per se. Why should I/we?

    My life — maturing, thriving, withOUT these freedoms, responsibilities, activities? I cannot imagine.

  30. James Pollock June 28, 2017 at 3:58 am #

    “Wildly at odds w/ the rules, expectations, in my upbringing […]”

    Was jaywalking part of the rules, expectations, in your upbringing?
    I mean, it’s been a couple of days since the “history of jaywalking” topic, but jaywalking has been forbidden for high-school students, along with everyone else, for all of MY life.

    Look at the photo. What I’m seeing is a street that lacks crosswalks. NOBODY is allowed to cross the streets where there isn’t a crosswalk (Note: Not all crosswalks are painted*). The school sent a letter singling out high-school students because they are responsible for high-school students, but the rule actually applies to anyone… it’s just that the school doesn’t have to care if anyone who isn’t in their care and control does it, and high-school students ARE in their care and control.

    *Every intersection creates crosswalks, unless there are specific markings overriding this rule. More significantly for this story, when a school bus stops and activates its lights, it CREATES a crosswalk for as long as the bus is stopped and the lights are activated… EXCEPT on divided roadways. Like this one..

  31. Derek W Logue of OnceFallen.com June 28, 2017 at 11:10 am #

    Why did the students cross the road?

    ..

    They didn’t.

    Bah dun tiss!

  32. Jon June 28, 2017 at 11:33 am #

    Jay walking rules are wildly different within the US and around the world.

    In NYC, they are almost never enforced. Maybe for an accident where a pedestrian was at fault.
    I have lived here for 15 years and never heard of anyone getting a ticket for it.

    In Australia, if you are far enough from a crossing(50-100m , I think) it is perfectly legal to cross when it is safe to do so.

  33. test June 28, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    @James Pollock in many countries, if there is no crossing within short distance, you can cross the road. It is not jaywalking then.

  34. James Pollock June 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm #

    “in many countries, if there is no crossing within short distance, you can cross the road. It is not jaywalking then.”

    Sure. And in the short-lived CW television series “The Tomorrow People”, (based on an earlier British series), the heroes could teleport, and teleporting isn’t jaywalking, either.

  35. Diane June 28, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

    While jaywalking is, in most places in the us, a traffic violation, I think it is inappropriate and over reaching for the school to be the enforcer of that law, if they are indeed handing out school consequences for it. I remember at a teaching orientation years ago when an administrator told us that the school district was within its rights to punish students for underage drinking off campus and after hours! He had no idea, when I laid out a scenario of an 18 yr old senior in London with her family on spring break having a beer and some busybody from her hometown snapping a pic of it, how that would play out but he wouldn’t back down from the absurd notion that schools should continue to creep into every facet of a student’s life.

  36. James Pollock June 28, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

    ” I think it is inappropriate and over reaching for the school to be the enforcer of that law”

    Depends on whether or not the school has taken care and custody of the child(ren) during the time(s) of the event in question.

    Consider another case: An assault that occurs on school property. Should the school be involved? If it happens at noon, on a school day, in front of the staff, then yes, they should. If it happens at midnight, or on a Saturday, then no, they shouldn’t. But what about boundary cases? After school, say. Is the school still responsible for children after school? Well, children who were required to stay after school, for sure. Children who were allowed to stay after school for school-affiliated activities, pretty definitely. Students who are streaming out of the school, on the way home? (walking across the schoolyard, waiting for school buses, or waiting in the designated car-pick-up area for parents to arrive?) still pretty clearly under the care and custody of the school. Children who have been released to their parents, who have shown up to collect them? Pretty clearly NOT under the school’s care and custody. Children who have been released from school and school-sponsored activities, but who remain on-site, possibly to play on the playground or sports fields? Unclear. So schools make a rule: Children who want to play on the playground or sports fields must go home and come back.

    Here’s my best guess as to why this particular school has this particular rule. It’s not based on specific knowledge, and may be wrong… but my guess is this:
    Because this road is divided, the school bus cannot stop traffic both ways. This means that there are bus stops on both sides of the street., with students expected to get on and off the school bus at bus stops that are on the same side of the road as their homes are. I feel pretty solid so far, but I’m going out a little further on the limb here. I’m guessing that the same bus serves both sides of the street. The bus route goes down one side the street, makes a loop of some kind, and then comes back down the other side of the road. (Many, many years ago, I was served by a bus route of this kind, and the road in question was US Hwy 101.)
    Now, small children (possibly under the hawk eyes of their parents) can be fairly counted upon to be at their own bus stop in the morning, and to get off their own bus stop in the afternoon. High-school-age students, however, are more likely to make their own judgments. Judgments like “if I get off at this stop on the wrong side the road, and then run across the road, I can save 20 minutes of valuable video-game-playing time” or “if I wait until after the bus stops at my stop, but run across the roadway, I can still catch it at the stop on the other side, and that lets me sleep for 15 minutes longer in the morning”.
    OK so far?
    You might be perfectly happy to let your high-school-age kid cross the road without a crosswalk, and you might be perfectly happy to let your high-school-age kid decide whether or not to cross the road without a crosswalk. I was, and most if not all people who follow this blog probably would, too.. But what I would NOT want is to have someone else deciding to let my child make that decision without my consultation. So the school’s position, WHILE THEY CONTROL YOUR KID, is that they can’t. The school’s position, WHILE THEY DO NOT CONTROL YOUR KID, is that it is your problem to resolve.

    Ms. Skenazy’s spin on the original letter suggests that high-school-age students are being selectively targeted for enforcement because of their age, that this rule only applies to them because of their age. I counter-suggest that they are being selectively targeted because they are breaking a law that applies to everyone, but the selective enforcer doesn’t have to worry about everyone, just (in this case) children under its/their care. If a parent were to pick up their child at school, drive them to the bus stop on the wrong side of this street, and let them out to cross the street and walk home, the school has no say. If it’s the middle of the summer, and the kids on one side of the street freely cross to visit friends on the other side, the school has no say.

    (Note: It’s probably complicated by the fact that the school doesn’t directly transport students on buses; they contract for that service with a private entity which actually owns and operates the buses. I skipped over this possibility, this comment is already wall o’ text enough.)

  37. Jonathan Wilson June 28, 2017 at 9:10 pm #

    I think they need to get rid of whatever BS rules or laws or legal thinking exists that somehow says that schools have responsibility for kids during that period when they are between their house and the school if they are walking or riding their bike or whatever.

    Once the kid leaves the school (or gets off the school bus) the school should no longer be responsible for what the kid does (or what happens to the kid e.g. injuries)

    Same with this ridiculous notion that what kids do on social media outside of school hours is something the school has any business getting involved in.

  38. Michael Wangai June 30, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    What does school have to do with crossing the road? i wonder

  39. James Pollock July 3, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

    “What does school have to do with crossing the road? i wonder”

    If said road-crossing has to do with transportation to or from school, then the school is involved because they have liability if (long list of unlikely but very bad things) happens.

    If said road-crossing has nothing to do with transportation to or from school, then nothing.