I Must Get Out of the Car to Pick Up My 8-year-old, And I Am Disabled

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This situation is so infuriating, I am at a loss for advice to give that doesn’t involve hissing. Maybe you have some?
Dear Free-Range Kids: My daughter “M” just started 3rd grade at a school she has attended since preschool. It has 200 students K-8 so everyone knows everyone. There is one main building that has a field surrounded by a fence and then sidewalks that lead to the parking lot.
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Last year after lots of debate, signing a waiver, and basically being told I was a bad mom, the teacher finally agreed to allow M to be released from the classroom at the end of the day without an adult and go across the field and meet me at a predetermined place. This allowed me to be able to pick her up without having to get out of my car, and since I use a wheelchair a lot of the time this is a big deal.
After doing this pick-up method without a single incident last year, I figured this year it wouldn’t be an issue.
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Boy was I wrong! Her teacher is new this year and returning to teaching after 16 yrs of homeschooling her kids. I explained to her what worked last year and my physical limitations.
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No dice.
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She absolutely refused to release M without a face-to-face hand-off. When I again explained that that wouldn’t work her solution was that M could stay 15 mins after school everyday and when she (the teacher) walked other kids to the after-school program, M could meet me at a drop-off area and get in the car. The only problem is that it is not an area where I can park and wait, so I have to keep making circles. And if I’m not there the exact second she is, the teacher makes M check into the aftercare program and I have to go in to check her out. So more walking!
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Yesterday I went ahead and started to walk up to the class because I was in a hurry and I didn’t think M had been taken to aftercare yet. As I was walking to the class I thought I heard her calling. Turns out she’d already been taken to aftercare so I walked all the way back and checked her out. She told me then that she had indeed yelled to try and stop me and was going to run out to catch me, on to a secure sidewalk area not a road, but was stopped and told she had to wait inside. She was upset because she knows how hard this is on me but said the teacher didn’t care. This is part of an email I sent the teacher:
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I’m curious what you consider to be unsafe about releasing my daughter from the classroom on her own? There is NOT a school rule that says kids can not be released from class on their own.  I would never do anything to put M’s safety in jeopardy, but I also think one of the best ways to keep her safe is to allow her to do low-risk activities in a controlled environment…. It may seem like a silly little thing but it was important to her and took a big burden off of me. So now this year I’m stuck trying to explain to her that it’s not that she did anything wrong or that I don’t trust her. 
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After all that do you think she said, “Ok, that makes sense, let’s try that”?! Of course not. I got yet another email that talked about school safety. I feel like my kid is being held hostage.
The mom added that she would make a bigger ruckus except that her daughter loves this school and gets some financial aid, so she feels she can’t be too squeaky a wheel (chair!).  Any other advice? – L

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Who let this kid

Halt! Wait for your disabled mom to escort you!

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92 Responses to I Must Get Out of the Car to Pick Up My 8-year-old, And I Am Disabled

  1. JulieH August 26, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

    I don’t think that she would come across as being too “squeaky” to take the issue to a school administrator since she hasn’t been able to come to a satisfactory resolution with the teacher as long as she presents it as an issue for which she requires assistance – not as a teacher bash. They may be able to provide additional options that the teacher does not have the creativity or authority to consider.

  2. WendyW August 26, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

    I do not think it would be “making a ruckus” to take this issue to the principal. If her daughter has been at this school since preschool, presumably the principal knows her and her situation. If there is no rule on the books re: the release of students, then this teacher is stepping beyond the boundaries of her authority. I would definitely go to the principal.

  3. Heartfruit August 26, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

    I agree, take it to the principal. Be polite. Stay calm. And as much as I hate to say so, whether you need it or not that day, bring your wheel chair. This teacher is new to the school. I’m sure she doesn’t want to be the teacher who looses a child the first week. Hopefully with her supervisors permission, she can see your point of view.

  4. Andy August 26, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

    This is a situation where the wheels need to be as squeaky as possible. If the teacher won’t listen to reason, go to the principal. If the principal won’t listen to reason, go to the school board. If they threaten her daughter’s financial aid as a result of this, go to the media.

  5. acm August 26, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

    Jeez, this really peeves me. I want to say that my next step after the principal would be a local paper, but maybe it’s enough to put together a few articles on how school safety is currently overblown and the world is safer than we think?

  6. Shannon August 26, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    All I can say is that I’m so tired of common sense going out the window in the name of ‘safety.’

  7. Qute August 26, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    Oh I would definitely get the principal and the school social worker/psychologist/guidance counselor (any or all of which your school may employ). Your daughter is likely suffering her own issues because of her inability to do what the two of you feel is the correct and proper course of action (with which I think any sane, thinking human being would agree) hence the reason to bring in the counselor and I think the teacher needs to be made aware of that — she is emotionally and mentally endanger your child. Particularly since this is not an official school rule.

    I find it horrendous that the teacher is requiring face-to-face pick ups. None of the schools we have attended required that after kindergarten.

    I would also ask them if their liability insurance is up-to-date since if you have to adhere to their unwritten policy that is entirely possible that you could injure yourself on their property WHICH IS WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO AVOID. Additionally, if they want to enforce the face-to-face pick up I would ask them to put that in writing and have it notarized. That way if, heaven forfend, you ARE injured in attempting to pick up your child they can’t come back and say that this isn’t actually a rule at the school since they enforcing made up rules apparently.

  8. Peter August 26, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

    Given that this is a disabled parent who is asking for a reasonable accommodation for her disability (one which the school provided in the past), is there an ADA issue here?

  9. ChicagoDad August 26, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    3rd grade?! Oh for heaven’s sake.

    Tell the teacher that from now on “M” is going to leave school on her own at the end of the day. Then you can make whatever arrangements work best for you and “M” to pick her up, whether that be at school, or she walks down the block, or meets you at a park or at home. Tell the teacher simply, “This is what I want. She is my daughter. This is the way it needs to be.”

    If she refuses, schedule a face-to-face with the principal, and make sure to come to the meeting in your wheel chair. Tell the principal that you want a reasonable accommodation from the school dismissal policies due to your disability. Period. If the principal refuses, then smile, say “thank you for your time” and have an attorney write the school board a letter.

    What the teacher is putting you through is not OK. Not at all.

  10. Papilio August 26, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

    I agree with everyone else. Just go over her head. You have a disability and she is refusing to work out a reasonable solution to the problem (that she has created in the first place, compared to last year). What would she do with a parent who can’t walk at all?? Force them to crawl?!
    Besides, your kid is EIGHT, not three – of course she should be able to walk a short distance on her own.

  11. Brooks August 26, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    This borders on criminal. I would suggest she walk to get the kid and fall right in front of the principals office. Then mention the ADA.

  12. E August 26, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    Talk to the Principal!

  13. Renee Anne August 26, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    I understand school policies are important and why we have them. However, there are exceptions to almost every rule and a reasonable person would agree that this requires an exemption status. Definitely go above the teacher’s head because (1) she is being unreasonable, and (2) the principal can probably think of a better, more reasonable idea.

    For example: why can she not walk out with another parent & child (a friend of hers, perhaps) and have that parent deliver her to her mother? Is there not one of the paraeducators that could walk her out? The girl is in 3rd grade and was deemed perfectly capable in 2nd grade. Also, way to bash the self-esteem there, teacher.

    Personally, I’d probably go Mama Bear on clueless teacher. But, I’m weird like that. I’m also feisty right now because I had a meeting with my son’s principal this morning about his medical plan. I was prepared for a fight. I didn’t have to fight at all. So, all my feistiness is lost. ::sigh::

  14. JJ August 26, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    Man that is so unfair and dumb. This doesn’t deal with the injustice head on but the most effective strategy might be for M’s mom to work at making this everyone else’s problem too. That is, do your best to inconvenience as many other people as you can as much as you can by picking her up at dismissal time in the face to face way they require you to do (give a reason why the option B–15 minutes after– won’t work). It’s easy for them to care about “safety” (or whatever their motivation is) when it’s no skin off their nose but once it becomes *their* problem they may have a miraculous epiphany about how your previous arrangement was just fine.

  15. Zed Fechten August 26, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    Assuming you’re in the US, write a letter to the principal requesting “reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Send a copy to the superintendent.

    It seems to me that federal civil rights law would trump a district policy.

  16. Walter Underwood August 26, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    This has to be an ADA violation. Or a Section 508 violation if it is a public school.

    Sending the child out is a “reasonable accommodation” for a disabled person. Period.

    Somebody should contact the US Dept. of Justice civil rights division. It doesn’t have to be the mom, anybody can report a civil rights violation. Maybe grandma can do it, then the mother can explain that her mom is protective and she asked her not to do it, but how do you stop your mom?

    https://www.ada.gov/filing_complaint.htm

    wunder

  17. James Pollock August 26, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    If the principal can’t resolve the problem in the first five minutes, get a lawyer. BESIDES the obvious ADA issues, there’s a more fundamental issue… the school doesn’t have the authority to detain the child after school without cause.

  18. diane August 26, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    If this is a private school, there may not be as many people to go to over the teacher’s head. Sometimes private schools can be even more unreasonable than public schools.

  19. John Cecere August 26, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

    I’ve pasted Section 8542 of the Every Student Succeeds Act that was passed last year below. Unless it’s specifically prohibited by the state she lives in, the school has no say in how her daughter gets to and from school.

    (a)In General
    Subject to subsection (b), nothing in this Act shall authorize the Secretary to, or shall be construed to—

    (1)prohibit a child from traveling to and from school on foot or by car, bus, or bike when the parents of the child have given permission; or
    (2)expose parents to civil or criminal charges for allowing their child to responsibly and safely travel to and from school by a means the parents believe is age appropriate.
    (b)No preemption of State or local laws
    Notwithstanding subsection (a), nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt State or local laws.

  20. North of 49 August 26, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

    “If you attempt to keep my child after school again, I will consider it kidnapping. You will release my daughter to her own recognizance every day promptly at (time) so that she can meet me. Forcing me to comply with such inane security is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and it infantalizes my daughter. Instead of teaching her independence and self-reliance, your policy forces her to a preschool state of mind. My daughter proved last year that she is fully capable of meeting me and such independence and self-reliance should be encouraged.

    “Again, if you attempt to keep my child after school again, I will consider it kidnapping, and take appropriate measures, including, and not limited to, suing you personally for attempted kidnapping and violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

    I’ve had to threaten my school a couple of times…

  21. James Pollock August 26, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

    “I’ve pasted Section 8542 of the Every Student Succeeds Act that was passed last year below. Unless it’s specifically prohibited by the state she lives in, the school has no say in how her daughter gets to and from school.”

    The law you cite doesn’t do what you think it does.
    What it DOES do is say that the Every Child Succeeds Act doesn’t place any limits on how children travel to and from school.
    It DOES NOT keep the federal government from applying any other federal law that would limit children’s travel to and from school.
    It DOES NOT keep the state government from applying rules that limit children’s travel to and from school.
    It DOES NOT prevent the school from enacting rules about how children travel to and from school.

    In short… it does not apply here, because the Secretary of Education is not attempting to issue a rule limiting how children travel to or from school.

  22. Richard August 26, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    She mentions financial aid. If this is a private school, many of the policies discussed in the comments above may not apply – keep that in mind.

  23. Miss Laura August 26, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

    Accuse the school of kiidnapping? My goodness, didn’t you ever hear you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? Sweetly thank the teacher for looking out for your child, tell her that because of your disability she must be released to walk to your car, and that if she is not you will be forced to go to the principal, the superintendent, the school board and the press before contacting a a lawyer. Ask her what accommodation she is prepared to make before you start that process. And thank her again,

  24. Cin August 26, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    They are discriminating against a person with a disability. Time to go to the principal and baldly state that they are breaking the law.

  25. Mom August 26, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    Passive Agressive response: Park & wait in the drop off zone. If a school admin gets annoyed, explain that your daughter’s teacher is forcing you to do this due to your disability. Either they will continue to allow you to park there or they will come to the light and allow your daughter to walk to your car.

  26. Backroads August 26, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    Wow. All I can think of is take it the administration if this stupid drop-off stuff is not an official school rule.

  27. elizabeth August 26, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

    I agree with the people who say the teacher is breaking laws. The teacher is not only discriminating against someone with a disability, but crushing a young girl’s self esteem. And legally, unless they have a WRITTEN rule on the books, they CANNOT detain a child without just cause. That is kidnapping. Poor girl, poor mom, having to go through all this trouble. Show up at the principle’s office in your wheelchair, complete with a list of laws and statutes that apply. The teacher might not be so keen on keeping your daughter after school if she is faced with legal action and a steep penalty.

  28. Nichol August 26, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

    I agree that this is ridiculous, and the school should absolutely accommodate.

    I wanted to point out that if her child is getting some financial aid, I wonder if she is willing or able to spend money on the lawyer than some are suggesting.

  29. Marie August 26, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

    I understand school policies are important and why we have them. However, there are exceptions to almost every rule and a reasonable person would agree that this requires an exemption status.

    If this is a school.policy, I cannot imagine why you would think this one is important or why they have it.

    My advice is NOT to argue for an exception based on your disability but to attack the rule itself. An eight-year-old should be dismissed at the end of the day. Period. She can walk home or to a park or to a friend’s house or to Mom’s car because her mom told her to do that. This rule might be particularly difficult for this one mom but it is a bad rule for ALL of the kids.

    Free the kids!

  30. Jason August 26, 2016 at 1:53 pm #

    If the school provides a minimum number of disabled parking spaces and has barrier-free access to the pickup point, they’ve probably satisfied their ADA obligations. I would definitely have escalated this to the principal, though, as soon as the teacher had balked.

  31. Dee August 26, 2016 at 2:05 pm #

    I would totally get the administration involved. And if they didn’t come through I would go to the school board, and then the local news station.

  32. Rick August 26, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    If she’s getting financial aid then this is a private school which can set any policy they want. Since they are being very inflexible it sounds to me they’re pressuring her to take her child out of school to free up a spot for someone else.

  33. NY Mom August 26, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    Contact your local, state and federal legislators. And yor Governor. You do not need to be a registered member of their respective party. Some will be more helpful than others.

  34. Papilio August 26, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    @Marie: “My advice is NOT to argue for an exception based on your disability but to attack the rule itself.”

    You have a pojnt, of course, but if these morons do stick to their helicopter policies, this mom has nothing while she needs it the most. But if she wins, with HER arguments, perhaps that frees the way for other parents to say that their kid is able to walk to the car (or whatever) by themselves as well.

  35. Taed August 26, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

    If a principal chat doesn’t work, you could make friends with some other parent in the class, tell the teacher and school that they are authorized to pick up your child, and then have that parent walk your daughter to your car.

  36. Papilio August 26, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

    “pojnt” I see I’ve resorted to phonetic spelling… 🙂

  37. James Pollock August 26, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    “Accuse the school of kiidnapping? My goodness, didn’t you ever hear you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?”

    I think this situation is past the point of making nice with the teacher, and it’s time (past time) to go over her head.

    My initial reaction is to tell the school, in writing, to release the child unconditionally at the end of the school day, tell the child where to meet, and if the child doesn’t meet mom at the appropriate time, call the police and report her missing. Or, alternatively, just don’t pick up the child at all and make them call to arrange a pickup.

    The parking in the pickup area is not recommended, because it will get all the other parents mad at you, whereas the administrators probably don’t care nearly as much.

    The bottom line is that there’s two different, both extremely severe violations of rights happening here… failing to make reasonable accommodations for a disabled person violates public accommodations law, and holding a child without the parent’s consent is an unlawful detention under color of law. If they demand payment for placing the child in “aftercare”, it’s actually a kidnap.

  38. James Pollock August 26, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

    “If she’s getting financial aid then this is a private school which can set any policy they want”

    Not even vaguely true.

  39. theresa August 26, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    I agree with the others here a little reminding of the ADA should help. This mom has tried to be nice . if a stern warning doesn’t change them then play hardball with telling the news and lawyer.

  40. lollipoplover August 26, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

    Our school transportation procedure involves filling out a form at the beginning of the year for arrival and dismissal. We mark our kids as Walkers/Bikers and by doing this, they can sign themselves in/out of school without any issue. They’ve done this since 1st grade. Talk to the principal. Teachers don’t have the authority to dictate personal transportation choices made by families on how they get their kids to and from school.

    On a side note, I came across this Back to School safety list from our township:

    “Walking to school
    • Walk to school with a group of kids and always
    have a responsible adult with you.
    • Use a sidewalk if available, if no sidewalk walks facing the traffic.
    • The safest place to cross is at a street corner or intersection.
    • If you are 10-years-old or younger, you need to cross the street with an adult.
    • Before you step off the curb to cross the street, stop and look all ways to see
    if cars are coming.
    • Walk, don’t run. This gives time for drivers to see you before you enter the
    roadway. Running makes you more likely to fall in the street.
    • Don’t dart out in front of a parked car. The driver coming down the street
    will not be able to see you.”

    So my 10 year-old who has crossed the same streets for the past 5 years now needs an adult to hold her hand?
    Sorry, she would be mortified. Why are we treating these kids like incompetent babies???

  41. Ron Skurat August 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

    I think making ADA threats in a letter from a lawyer would be effective.

  42. Suzanne August 26, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    She should contact the principal and make sure he is shs is aware of how this is being handled. It may be a new teacher genuinely trying to do what she thinks is right. If the principal refuses to use the same plan as last year contract the ADA.

  43. Teri August 26, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

    ADA may not apply here. Private schools that are religious in nature OR who don’t accept federal funds/grants aren’t even required to provide ADA access to students with disabilities, much less parents.

  44. Art August 26, 2016 at 4:15 pm #

    OMG, this IS the stupidest I’ve ever heard of and it’s not just the private school either. I have been currently picking up my niece and nephew from a central texas district and they are doing this exact same thing. It’s beyond infuriating and actually quite dangerous. Parents are having to park, get out the car, and pick up their kids, then back into traffic again.

    First, the school does not have enough parking, and second, people are crossing outside of the crosswalks. It’s an unholy nightmare.

    The school district just north of the one my niece and nephew has it right. They stagger the release starting from 2:38 (full release is 2:45) bus kids get released to the busses first, then walkers at 2:42 and finally parent pickup and after school. Parent pickups kids are released to the front of the school and are sat in grade groups. 5th graders act as safety patrol, the parents cars are lined up and the Safety Patrol takes the kids to their parents.

  45. Freedom advocate August 26, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

    Super frustrating. Obviously the teacher is not worth corresponding with. I understand the reluctance to “rock the boat” but it is entirely possible the new teacher is not aware of school rules and regulations.
    I would caution this mother that the school could take the teachers side simply because that tends to happen.
    So I’d go for a meeting with the principal and director “asking for guidance”. Then I’d explain the situation, and the solution that worked well for several years. I’d then request support to continue that strategy. That you’d tried to comply but it is causing great difficulty and that there is no safety issue with the original solution.
    Can’t let it go though. It just turns into death by paper cuts. And you’ll be blazing a trail for anyone else who might need help too.

  46. The other Mandy August 26, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

    At 7 years old I walked a mile home from school each day, often alone (as I preferred). My son’s new preschool just sent a note saying that after the first week, please do not walk your kid to class unless he really needs it (and it’s a bit of a walk outdoors to the building from the drop off area). I’m very pleased by this.

    To not allow an 8-year-old to walk from the building to the car is so silly. I agree with using the ADA as a rationale, and going to the principal. Obviously the teacher is no help.

  47. Ben August 26, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

    Can you get this busybody teacher in touch with the teacher that you dealt with previously? Maybe having some common sense talked into her will help. Also, you do still have that signed waiver you can talk about.

  48. Sam August 26, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

    Question for James Pollock:

    You say that “the school doesn’t have the authority to detain the child after school without cause”, — but also that the Every Student Succeeds Act clause “does not apply here, because the Secretary of Education is not attempting to issue a rule limiting how children travel to or from school”.

    So do schools (at least, public schools..) have the authority to dictate a rule that a child can leave only with an adult without any exceptions, or do they not?

    Dealing with a similar issue here (minus the disability) with a public charter school, which has a written rule about face-to-face pickup, and frustratingly does not agree to have a release waiver option for a child to leave on his own.

  49. James Pollock August 26, 2016 at 5:05 pm #

    “ADA may not apply here. Private schools that are religious in nature OR who don’t accept federal funds/grants aren’t even required to provide ADA access to students with disabilities, much less parents”

    ADA is a red herring.
    The real problem is that they are holding children beyond their authority to do so.

    However, 42 U.S.C. 12181 provides some definitions which are applicable here:
    Note 42 U.S.C. 18181(7)(J). Private schools are covered by ADA.

    Exemptions are detailed a couple of sections later, in 42 U.S.C. 18187. Truly private clubs and religious organizations are exempted. (Private clubs because they aren’t required to accommodate the public, and religious organizations because Congress isn’t permitted to regulate the practice of religion.)

    Note hat this is only the federal law; additional state law may also apply.

    Again, though, this is a side issue. The real issue is that they’re holding ANYONE’S child, and the fact that the individual claimant happens to be disabled is not important (well, it is to HER. I mean that even a 100% able-bodied person can tell the school to release their child to the wild at the end of the school day, and the school lacks authority to refuse to do so..

  50. James Pollock August 26, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

    “So do schools (at least, public schools..) have the authority to dictate a rule that a child can leave only with an adult without any exceptions, or do they not?”

    Like any other legal question, the answer is “it depends”. If you need assistance on how the law applies to your specific situation, hire an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction who is familiar with cases of this sort. Do not assume that ANYONE on the Internet is qualified to give you specific advice, except for that exact piece of advice. Clear?

    The section of the “Every Child Succeeds Act” quoted (and trumpeted heavily here when it was attached to the EVSA) does… nothing. Literally nothing. A lot of people were unhappy that I kept pointing this out, as if it were my fault and I was raining on their big achievement.

    Federal law neither requires nor prevents kids from travelling to school as the parents see fit, except in cases that are really about something else. (If the parent steals a HUMMV from the local Army Reserve station, and uses it to transport the kid to school, the parent can be prosecuted… not because they took their kid to school in a HUMMV, but because they stole it from the Reserve motor pool.)

    OK, so how about state law? Well, not surprisingly, states can vary in their approach to things, so you’d have to look up the laws that govern your particular state. However, to the best of my knowledge, this tends not to be set at the state level, either. (There are some requirements for availability of buses for children who live far enough away from their school(s), but the students aren’t actually required to use them… some bike or drive themselves, some ride with parents, some carpool. The state regulates some behavior that can come into effect on a drive to school, but isn’t actually about that. If you speed in a school zone, you get a ticket… whether you were on your way to school, or just passing through the neighborhood.)

    That brings us to individual schools. Historically, we tend to give schools considerable latitude, siding on the side of the school rather than the individual’s rights. For example, a school can implement a closed campus, meaning that students MUST stay at school even if they have a free period in the middle of the day, or at lunchtime, unless signed out by a parent. And if there was, say, a tornado warning right as school dismissal time comes, the school can hold the students until the danger passes. And yes, a school can hold a student after school as punishment for transgressions of school rules… although if a parent showed up to take the child, I’m pretty sure the school would have to surrender the child.

    Can a school make a policy that students will not be dismissed to walk, bike, or drive home, over the parent’s demand that the child be released? I don’t think so. But you’ll want to check with that lawyer we discussed back in the first paragraph.

  51. Warren August 26, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

    So according to the original author there is no actual school rule against her child being released per her instructions.

    There is no problem then. Tell the teacher you have instructed your daughter on what she is to do at the end of the day. Any attempts to stop her will give you no other option but to call the police and report that her daughter is being forcibly held against her will. The teacher is not following a school directive just imposing her personal values.

    Write it up and send copies to the teacher principal and pta. Then follow through.

  52. m August 26, 2016 at 6:20 pm #

    “Given that this is a disabled parent who is asking for a reasonable accommodation for her disability (one which the school provided in the past), is there an ADA issue here?”

    THIS. Reasonable accommodation for a disabled person. That is what is being asked. That should be provided.

  53. Ravin August 26, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    The most practical option is to go over the teacher’s head to the school administrator. That is the next level where this should be addressed.

  54. David Buchner August 26, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

    My wife (a teacher) says: Gotta go to the principal. This has to be resolved. Teacher is obviously just stonewalling, and will continue to do so.

    But me says: why would you want your kid in the hands of those people in the first place?

  55. Blaze Miskulin August 26, 2016 at 7:31 pm #

    Just a note for those talking about kidnapping. The stated situation does not qualify as kidnapping under most legal definitions of the term. What is happening would fall under “unlawful restraint” or “false imprisonment” types of laws. (all caveats apply)

  56. Resident Iconoclast August 26, 2016 at 7:32 pm #

    Stop talking to the obsequious little brown-nosers about your child.

    Call your local TV or media outlet and bitch about the school discriminating against the disabled. Also, find out how you can file a complaint under your state’s anti-discrimination law or under the federal education laws.

    Accuse them of torturing disabled person. Shove their PC crap right up their own rectums.

    Be militant. Asking school districts nicely to do anything is like asking the NSA not to spy on you.

  57. Lisa August 26, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    Send a notice to the school that this violates mom’s ADA rights. That teacher will be directed to adapt. (I’m a former special education teacher and advocate)

  58. Mike August 26, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

    Don’t ask, do. “Hey is it ok if…” won’t work, the school will just say no. Tell your daughter to leave the room and walk across to you, and if the teacher has a screaming meltdown, so be it. YOU are the parent, and YOU are the one who makes the rules.

  59. Buffy August 26, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

    I agree that this is not just an ADA issue. *Any* parent should be able to decide how their child gets home from school, and the continued belief by schools that they can dictate what happens when the bell rings needs to be stopped. I love what someone (ChicagoDad? Far too lazy to scroll back up ha ha) “This is what I want. She is my daughter. This is the way it needs to be.”

    If more parents said this, maybe the entire drop off/pick up drama would quietly fade away.

  60. Mary August 26, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

    Why in the world can’t someone who works for the school have the very brief job of simply walking the child over to her mother in the car each day? It is uncharitable to have a woman who uses a wheel chair have this unnecessary burden. If they don’t want the child walking alone, fine-send someone, even an older kid who has been chosen for this job. Not difficult and a kinder way to handle this…Just walk the child over to the ca to her mother!

  61. James Pollock August 26, 2016 at 10:46 pm #

    And now, Devil’s Advocate.

    In the olden times, most kids either came to school on the bus, or they walked, skateboarded, or biked. A typical grade school needed enough parking for the teachers and staff, and a place for the buses to pull in and load and unload.

    Then, we started to get afterschool programs that provided afterschool pickup for schoolchildren, and provided supervision for school-age kids who didn’t have a parent at home during those hours, and who weren’t old enough to be unsupervised. This added to the confusion, a bit, but tended to be well-run… the kids know which daycare bus to get on, and the daycare bus driver was efficient and careful. Then…well, a kid that gets picked up by a daycare bus can’t ride a bike to school. Busy parents wanted their kids home, and the fastest way to do that is to collect them directly from the school.

    But… the schools were never built with drive-throughs. They have tiny parking lots… one slot per teacher or staff member, and enough room for loading and unloading buses. No place for parents to park. No place for them to drive up and collect their precious offspring.

    This created dangers that never existed before… impatient parents, jammed into a traffic situation that was overloaded and jammed, and lots of really short people darting between cars trying to get to their parents’. Chaos, danger, and undoubtedly enough accidents… serious ones… to get the attention of the educational establishment. So… extremely rigid rules were devised to push parents through amazingly congested school parking lots. The time necessary to drive to the school, collect one or more offspring, and get out again onto a clear roadway stretched and stretched as more and more parents drop off and pick up their kids instead of letting them walk or ride their bikes (both of which are now dangerous because of the number of cars with angry, frustrated, impatient drivers in them rushing to get out of the area)

    So… the school monitors the pickup/dropoff carefully. They’re on the lookout for “cheaters”… people who pick up their children somewhere outside the school parking lot, so the parent doesn’t have to negotiate the lot congestion. And of course, once one parent figures out a good pickup spot, soon there are a dozen others, and then two dozen, and now the “secret” pickup spot across the schoolyard is busy, congested, and unsafe, too.

    So the school makes rules… no more picking up your child across the schoolyard, on the back street. You come into the school’s parking lot and pick them up at the designated spot, just like everyone else. And when that doesn’t work, then kids aren’t allowed to walk across the schoolyard after school anymore. When that doesn’t work, each kid is released to a parent, school bus, or designated adult (OK, if you have high-school age kids, too, the high-school-age kid can pick up the grade-school age kids and walk home.) Provide contact information for yourself (if you aren’t on time) and alternates who are allowed to pick up your kid(s) (if you can’t come in at all.)

    You see, it’s for the kids’ safety. Only, it really is… all those frustrated, impatient, edgy, annoyed, late, busy, overscheduled parents driving near the school make it REALLY DANGEROUS to NOT be in a car. You see?

  62. Richard August 26, 2016 at 11:00 pm #

    If it is not a religiously operated school (or your state has an accommodation law suit does not exempt religious schools), you might want to ask to their Accommodation Coordinator, or whoever is in charge of identifying, reviewing and approving accommodations as you need an accommodation in connection with picking up your daughter. If it is a small institution, that may just be the principal. In any event, that might lead you to the best person who can help you get a change implemented without a confrontation if that is what you want to do.

  63. Sandi August 27, 2016 at 12:35 am #

    I wonder if another staff member, or even an older student could volunteer to walk her or to your car.

  64. Pamela Berkman August 27, 2016 at 1:29 am #

    All businesses, and I would think this would include a private school, are required by federal law to make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities. The teacher’s solutions do not sound like reasonable accommodation, but like punitive action. Can this mom try to find a local advocacy group for people with disabilities to help her remind the school of this? I know she doesn’t want to make a fuss but a courteous letter to the principal from an advocacy group lawyer might do the trick. I believe it would be illegal for the school to respond by taking away the financial aid or kicking her daughter out of school, but someone who specializes in these things would know for sure. Has she appealed to the principal on her own first? Good luck to her! Ridiculous.

  65. Pamela Berkman August 27, 2016 at 1:54 am #

    Also I love the idea further up about asking the teacher to put her alleged solution and requirements in writing and having it notarized, and asking re: their liability insurance. That ought to scare some sense into them.

  66. James Pollock August 27, 2016 at 2:09 am #

    “All businesses, and I would think this would include a private school, are required by federal law to make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities. ”

    It’s actually FAR more complicated than that.

    First off, there’s two completely separate parts. One part covers businesses making the premises accessible for employees. There’s a bunch of exemptions to these rules… it isn’t a flat “all businesses”. Another part covers businesses which are “open to the public”, which have to accommodate members of the public who are disabled. There’s a whole different set of exemptions for that one. Further up, I listed out the relevant statutes.

  67. Laura W August 27, 2016 at 8:13 am #

    I suggest discussing the situation with the principal and getting his/her support.

  68. Art August 27, 2016 at 10:41 am #

    @JP,

    Not entirely true. My old Elementary school was built in the 40’s. Parent pickup was done in the front of the school, with bus pickup in back, opposite the playground. However, this was a small town and kids actually walked. Milam Elementary in South Odessa Tx, was also built in the 40’s (torn down in 2000) but anyway, same setup, teacher parking was to the left of the school, The busses were to the right, and parent pickup was a circular drive in front of the school.

    from my earlier post

    The school district just north of the one my niece and nephew has it right. They stagger the release starting from 2:38 (full release is 2:45) bus kids get released to the busses first, then walkers at 2:42 and finally parent pickup and after school. Parent pickups kids are released to the front of the school and are sat in grade groups. 5th graders act as safety patrol, the parents cars are lined up and the Safety Patrol takes the kids to their parents.

  69. sexhysteria August 27, 2016 at 11:20 am #

    Tell the teacher that she’s probably right: second-graders and younger children are a low-priority for kidnappers (credit the “Ransom of Little Red Chief” story) so toddlers, preschoolers and first/second graders are almost never kidnapped, but third-graders and up are a high risk group likely to be whisked away at the drop of a hat. If the mass media reported where that field is, kidnappers from all over would catch the next flight out to go there. Tell the teacher we can all appreciate her clear logic based on reliable statistics, but maybe some compromise can be found that takes into account the mom’s disability while acknowledging the teacher’s expert grasp of kidnapping risk in the real world.

  70. SteveS August 27, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    It is certainly worth talking to the principal and taking it up the chain of command (for lack of a better term) to see if they are willing to work with you. If that gets you nowhere, contact an attorney. As others have already pointed out, the ADA may not apply here if this is a religious institution. That being said, many states also have anti discrimination laws that do not exempt religious institutions.

  71. Dawn August 27, 2016 at 5:53 pm #

    When my son was in third grade I told the teacher that I wanted him to walk home on his own after school (across a small street with light) and a 2 min walk. She said in all her 30 years of working there she had never heard of this request before. I asked if there was a form I could sign saying I approved. She said absolutely not! So I made one that was really legal sounding, signed it and dropped it off.

  72. Donna August 27, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

    “Can a school make a policy that students will not be dismissed to walk, bike, or drive home, over the parent’s demand that the child be released? I don’t think so.”

    Sure they can. Once you give responsibility to a person or entity to care for your child (or anything else), said person or entity has a say in how they relinquish that responsibility. You don’t get to insist that they take responsibility for your child (or anything else) AND unilaterally dictate the level of liability that they must accept in doing so.

    No police force that I have ever encountered would do anything more than laugh you out of the police station if you wanted to bring charges in this situation which is essentially – I chose to enroll my child in this particular school with absolutely no obligation whatsoever to do so. I did so KNOWING the rules as to student release. I followed said rules without complaint for several years. I asked the school to modify the rules for me this year, they said no and I want you to make them do what I want.

    I am extremely sympathetic to the mom’s situation and 100% believe that the rule should change, but there is no legal option outside of possibly pursuing a ABA claim if the school is in violation (I am no where near an ABA expert and I have absolutely no idea if this would be a violation or if a school is even required to make accommodations for a parent). Unless the school has deep pockets, even the threat may be enough. My guess is that the school would also have an unexpected decline in scholarship funding next year. This would also probably be actionable in court, but how much effort are these people really going to put into this situation.

  73. James Pollock August 27, 2016 at 8:55 pm #

    “Sure they can. Once you give responsibility to a person or entity to care for your child (or anything else), said person or entity has a say in how they relinquish that responsibility.”
    That’s a contract. The school context is different, as one side does not have a choice; the state mandates school attendance.

    “You don’t get to insist that they take responsibility for your child”
    You have the wrong side insisting on the responsibility-taking.

    “I chose to enroll my child in this particular school with absolutely no obligation whatsoever to do so.”
    Unless you count the state mandate and truancy law, no obligation whatsoever.

    “I did so KNOWING the rules as to student release. I followed said rules without complaint for several years. I asked the school to modify the rules for me this year, they said no and I want you to make them do what I want.”
    Um, OK. How is your experience relevant to the general case?

    “I am extremely sympathetic to the mom’s situation and 100% believe that the rule should change, but there is no legal option outside of possibly pursuing a ABA claim if the school is in violation (I am no where near an ABA expert and I have absolutely no idea if this would be a violation or if a school is even required to make accommodations for a parent).”
    You seem to have switched cases. I do not believe that Sam has any kind of “ABA” claim.

  74. James Pollock August 27, 2016 at 10:13 pm #

    “No police force that I have ever encountered would do anything more than laugh you out of the police station if you wanted to bring charges in this situation”

    If you’ve gone to the police station to pursue your civil lawsuit, you DESERVE to laughed out of the building.

  75. SKL August 27, 2016 at 10:32 pm #

    Has she tried talking to the principal? She could offer to sign a letter or something if they are afraid she’s going to sue if her kid somehow ends up in the wrong place after dismissal.

    This sounds like a horrible policy. Even my kid’s school takes the kids outside to meet their parents in the car right after dismissal (which is still helicopterish, but better than what this school does). Why do they want all the parents to have to park and walk in to pick up their kids? What a mess. I thought pickup lines were dumb enough.

    It goes without saying that when I was 8yo I walked myself to & from school (and everywhere else) and nobody signed anything. Even if I was sick and had to leave school early, I didn’t need a parent to escort me out. But I know, I know, “times have changed.”

  76. JJ August 28, 2016 at 1:34 am #

    I am a licensed teacher, current daycare provider, and mother of girls entering kindergarten and grade 2. My girls are walking to school and back. (2 blocks). They will also be escorting another kindergarten child to and from my child care. This circumstance is ridiculous! As a teacher, I feel that it’s completely appropriate for you to take this to the administration, since the teacher is not able to provide an adequate response to your needs. If the administration can’t help, go to the division superintendent. If that doesn’t work, go public to papers- both paper & online. This sort of damaging over supervision needs to stop.

  77. monica thompson August 28, 2016 at 2:16 am #

    Go to the principal. Tell her you understand that the teacher considers it a safety issue, but she is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities act, and that if accomidations aren’t made you will have no choice but to go to the media or a lawyer about their illegal behavior, so can she help you work out a plan before it has to go that far

  78. Anne Herbst Oto August 28, 2016 at 11:06 am #

    Dear Friend,

    Normally I’m not litigious, but I think it may be time to bring in the experts, namely your local or state disabilities advocates, and have them intercede on your behalf. I’m also not a lawyer, but I believe it can be proven that you have done your best to accommodate the school, and your child is suffering the fallout of their bullheadedness. It’s time for you to make the statement that they are not accommodating YOUR disability, to the detriment of the student and ultimately the parent population. They need a disabled parking area and/or access ramps for parents to have a safe and convenient route to their children.

    And if this seems like overkill, it should, but an immoderate rule deserves an immoderate response.

    My two cents. And bravo to you for putting the emotional needs of your child first when it’s actually called for, rather than in a hypothetical situation of hysterical what-ifs.

    Respectfully,

    Anne

  79. Jill Olson Meinhart August 28, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    Talk to the school board and explain your situation. If this does not work bypass any other mess and get the state involved. The Americans with Disabilities Act was put into place for these circumstances.

  80. Dmg August 28, 2016 at 4:37 pm #

    I am surprised they don’t have something closer to the building for you to park at and wait for your daughter to walk out to you. All shopping malls, churches have handicapped parking close to the building to make easier for oeople to get into the building. Perhaps an arrangement can be made for you to be closer to the building and your daughter can come out to you.

  81. Jeffrey Deutsch August 28, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

    Just a few notes:

    (1) It’s all well and good for us to breathe fire and brimstone about not only writing the principal but also bringing in lawyers, the media and G*d knows who else. We keyboard commandos are not the ones holding the bag if this goes wrong.

    Did anyone notice Ms. Skenazy specifically saying that the mother does not wish to be an overly squeaky wheel precisely because her daughter gets some financial aid there? Maybe — from M having gone there for over three years already — she knows a bit about the people running this school. Including how readily they retaliate and commonly they get away with it when they do.

    (2) To what extent, if any, is financial aid at this presumably private school a right? Quite possibly it’s charity, out of the goodness of their hearts, and can be withdrawn for good reason, bad reason, any reason or no reason.

    (3) Presumably, M wants to continue going to this school — which extends through the 8th grade. That’s six more years, including the one just started, that M and her mother will have to deal with these people.

    By the way, financial aid is far from the only potential pressure point here. Have we all left school so long ago that we’ve forgotten the many ways in which a teacher or school administrator who doesn’t like a certain kid can make his or her time there miserable? Or that sometimes it’s because the kid’s parent (or other family member) pissed them off?

    (4) “Students must be handed off face to face” isn’t just something this teacher is doing. Given all the wrangling the mother had to do to get an exemption from the teacher’s predecessor, I’ll wager it’s a school policy. And schools don’t make exceptions easily — for precisely the reason Papilio mentioned: “So-and-so doesn’t have to walk up to the teacher to collect her kid, so I don’t want to either!”

    (5) What James Pollock said about speaking with an appropriate lawyer *before* so much as threatening legal action. It’s easy to overestimate what the law actually entitles you to. I’d be very surprised if the school hadn’t consulted lawyers while making this policy…and quite possibly they made the policy in the first place to avoid being sued in case some kid gets run over or kidnapped.

  82. Warren August 28, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

    Donna and the rest,

    According to this mom it is not a school rule. This is a teacher imposing her own rules. So your stance that the school has the right to dictate how your child is released is not the problem.

    It is an individual teacher actually acting on her own and therefore cannot hide behind school policy and the protection it affords. So yes charge the bugger.

  83. Jeffrey Deutsch August 28, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

    Hello Warren,

    I don’t see the mother saying that it’s *not* a school rule. I’m inferring that it’s a school policy from the fact that not only the current teacher but also her predecessor insisted on it.

    Also, the mother, when discussing the original teacher, refers to the debate and being told that she is a bad mom in the passive voice. That tells me that someone other than the original teacher also spoke with the mother about this. Not to mention the mother also had to sign a waiver.

  84. James Pollock August 28, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

    “I don’t see the mother saying that it’s *not* a school rule. ”

    Jeffrey, the second-to-last paragraph includes the sentence. “There is NOT a school rule that says kids can not be released from class on their own.”

    My inference is that the school doesn’t want to build up a secondary hub of pick-up activity wherever it is that the mother was doing the pickups last year. One parent picking up their kid from the spot across the field is one thing, but once other parents start to notice that they don’t have to wait in school traffic, you’ll start to get other parents wanting to do the same thing. This creates annoyance for the neighbors who live there, increased hazard for the children passing through, and if mom/dad doesn’t show up, instead of being right there at the school to be “signed into aftercare”, you have an “abandoned” kid just off campus.

    In short, there’s probably a valid concern. One that can be worked out, but not just cussed arbitrariness.

  85. SteveS August 28, 2016 at 10:29 pm #

    I’d be very surprised if the school hadn’t consulted lawyers while making this policy…and quite possibly they made the policy in the first place to avoid being sued in case some kid gets run over or kidnapped.

    Having been involved in litigation involving schools, you may be surprised to find that schools (and businesses) make all sorts of decisions without consulting lawyers.

  86. Jeffrey Deutsch August 28, 2016 at 10:59 pm #

    James Pollock: I stand corrected, of course. I assume the mother knows what is and isn’t a school rule.

    SteveS: I’m prepared to stand corrected. Thanks for the perspective!

  87. SteveS August 29, 2016 at 9:41 am #

    No problem. I was actually quite surprised when I first ran into this. I figured that school districts would consult with an attorney on some of these issues, especially when parents had threatened litigation. In my state, many of the schools belong to some association that has an attorney skilled in this area of law, so they certainly don’t have an excuse.

  88. JulieC August 29, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    Some of the comments here seem to be confusing what you can do at a private school versus a public school. The writer mentioned being on a scholarship, so I think it’s a safe bet this is a private school. Going to a school board or superintendent wouldn’t really be a viable option.

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned – my husband is disabled, and uses a cane for walking and wears leg braces (under his clothes). When we pull into a handicapped spot, it is not uncommon for someone to stand there, staring at us, until he exits the car, at which point they see the cane and quickly turn the other way and move on. In other words, from the waist up he doesn’t “look” handicapped. I know, it’s incredibly stupid, but that’s the case. Plus, he drives a nice truck, and for some reason, that seems to cause some folks to stop and check to make sure he’s “really” handicapped. The teacher may not really believe she is actually disabled, especially if she doesn’t always use/need a wheelchair.

    I think the best bet for the parent is to nicely request that the teacher and principal meet with her to figure out the best option to accommodate both her disability and the teacher’s desire for the child to be safe. Approach it not as a battle, but as a “let’s put our heads together and figure out what we can do” conversation. And by all means show up in your wheelchair. Don’t put the teacher on the defensive by mentioning that the prior year’s teacher allowed your daughter to walk alone. Let that come out in the conversation organically. Hopefully the principal will see reason.

  89. JulieH August 29, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    @JulieC
    I have observed what you are talking about, too. Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t have a cane or other outward sign that he is disabled. We have even had people stop us and start giving us a hard time. Hubby is only 45 years old, but he was born with a heart defect – now he has a pacemaker, multiple arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, and significant lung damage. When it is over 70 degrees and/or sunny, the walk over blacktop just saps him. Parking close limits the time in the heat or humidity and allows him to actually get out. When he feels good and the weather is cooler, he doesn’t use a handicapped space. *sigh*

    @others saying to skip the principal…since this is a new teacher especially, it is only reasonable and fair to give the principal the chance to rectify the situation. At this point, he/she probably doesn’t even know that there is an issue to address. Skipping the principal makes the mom an obnoxious squeaky wheel that will potentially suffer unwanted repercussions.

  90. David (Dhewco) August 30, 2016 at 9:01 am #

    I love all the ‘lawyer’ comments. Depending on your area, there aren’t very many pro-bono lawyers out there. Especially in a case like this where there isn’t a chance of a big payday. I’m assuming a lot here, but I think I’m safe. Point of fact: My father loaned this woman money and she paid him back with a bad check…on a closed account. He’s old, pre-dementia (not gone, but slipping a bit). Imagine our surprise when the police show up because she accused him of stealing her ‘old’ checkbook. They take him down for questioning, book him, and we have to go down to bail him out. With bail, lawyer, and fees…that travesty cost us over 2.2k dollars. That’s in a ‘lawyer will be provided for you’ criminal case. There’s no public defender when the county can’t pay them.

    I can’t imagine what it would cost this woman to actually bring a civil case.

  91. Quantum Mechanic August 30, 2016 at 5:31 pm #

    “The section of the “Every Child Succeeds Act” quoted (and trumpeted heavily here when it was attached to the EVSA) does… nothing. Literally nothing. A lot of people were unhappy that I kept pointing this out, as if it were my fault and I was raining on their big achievement.”

    Well, not quite nothing :). It says that nothing in the ECSA authorizes the feds to create those restrictions, etc. So not nothing. But certainly not much of anything.

  92. JulieH September 1, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

    Is there any update? Did the mom take any next steps? Inquiring minds want to know.