Obeying Protocol, School Keeps Girl Outside in -5 Degrees in Wet Bathing Suit

Readers — Unplug your gall-o-meters before you read  this story or they might explode: When a fire alarm went off in a St. Paul Minnesota High School, everyone was evacuated, including a 14-year-old who’d been swimming and was not given time to grab her clothes. I can totally understand hustling her out of the building, given the fear of a real fire. What blows my mind is this:

But due to school policy, she wasn’t allowed to sit in a faculty-member’s car.

“We kind of huddled up and made a circle around me, and the other kids who were cold,” Hagen-Tietz said.

Eventually, a teacher did get permission to allow Hagen-Tietz and her classmate to sit inside her car.

But by that time Hagen-Tietz had already stood barefoot and wet for 10 minutes in some of the coldest conditions of the year.

Got that?

The school is on record as saying it will now “review these procedures, including cold weather modifications.” In other words, they think they need a new PLAN.

How about they PLAN TO USE THEIR HEADS?

Apparently they really NEED someone to write out, “Should evacuation occur during swimming and a student is taken outside in not less than a bathing suit but not more than a towel and it is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 Celsius), the no-children-in-teachers’-cars shall be suspended for 10 minutes, to be periodically reviewed by a committee of at least two fully certified, background-checked school administrators….”

Now of course, society has had long suffered mindless bureaucrats. But combine rigid bureaucracy with a hysteria about almost all contact between kids and adults and you get a society that is as cruel as it is stupid. The bizarre and far-fetched fear of a kid simply sitting in an adult’s car becomes more terrifying than the reality of a kid  standing outside, dripping wet and barefoot, in the winter, in Minnesota.

Ah, the things we do to keep children safe. – L.


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83 Responses to Obeying Protocol, School Keeps Girl Outside in -5 Degrees in Wet Bathing Suit

  1. J.T. Wenting March 3, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    Sadly I seriously doubt such rules will change unless and until several children die because of them.

    The fact that that didn’t happen merely strengthens the mindless idiots who make such rules in their belief that they’re doing the right thing.

  2. maggie March 3, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

    The fact they had to “ask permission” to do the right thing is pathetic. This is so sad. Endanger the girl’s health, perhaps even her life, because they are afraid of the rules.

  3. lsl March 4, 2014 at 2:19 am #

    I used to work as a lifeguard at a special needs school. We kept extra towels near the emergency exit for just this reason. During normal fire drills, we were the first group checked on & let back in before any other group was even checked on. We had a plan in place for what to do in case of a real evacuation during winter, so that no wet person would need to be out in the cold & snow any longer than it took to walk to the next building.

  4. SKL March 4, 2014 at 2:30 am #

    Wow. I hope this makes the news so these stupid rules will be challenged. In fact, I kinda hope they sue the school for like a billion dollars. Maybe when their CYA instinct kicks in they will be motivated to write logical exceptions into the “safety” rules.

  5. Lola March 4, 2014 at 4:20 am #

    @ SKL: Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? There’s just no way any law, rule, or protocol can foresee every little thing that can possibly happen. Needless to say, there isn’t just one correct way to establish priorities beforehand.
    Unless, of course, the rules establish that COMMON SENSE must be applied when following said rules. And even so, it’s quite sad to have to write that down.

  6. freeman2 March 4, 2014 at 5:51 am #

    We had a plan in place for what to do in case of a real evacuation during winter, perhaps even her life, because they are afraid of the rules.

  7. Andrew March 4, 2014 at 6:17 am #

    Oh, for pete’s sake, what kind of stupidity *requires* a 14 year old girl to stand outside, cold and wet, without clothes and barefoot, in the middle of the winter? A policy intended to keep her safe has caused her to suffer a physical injury.

  8. QuicoT March 4, 2014 at 6:38 am #

    @Lola,

    Right. Codify the obvious and it becomes absurd. They’d end up having have to file a Common Sense Exception request motion in triplicate with the Rules Exceptions Committee which sits every second Tuesday…

  9. SOA March 4, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    What J T said. They don’t change dumb rules till a kid dies or almost dies from it. So sad that a child dying is about the only thing that can instill change that or someone suing them.

  10. Katie G March 4, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    This is one of the rare instances that I think a lawsuit is a reasonable move. If not that, then the parents and neighbors and everyone around should be sharing this and shaming the school board until they all wake up to common sense.

  11. E. Simms March 4, 2014 at 8:09 am #

    This reminds me of story about how the police in Saudi Arabia prevented girls from escaping a fire in their school because they weren’t properly dressed. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1874471.stm

  12. E. Simms March 4, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    It was five degrees below zero. This girl ended up with frostbite. What kind of teacher with even a scintilla of compassion would wait for permission to protect a child from an obvious danger. I have a lot more to say but it’s to vulgar for this site.

  13. E. Simms March 4, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    “too vulgar” not “to vulgar”

  14. marie March 4, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    What E. Simms said.

  15. BL March 4, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    Any of our legal eagles able to comment on the application of this principle to this situation? Looks appropriate to me:

    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Necessity+defense

  16. C. S. P. Schofield March 4, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    os·ten·ta·tious
    ˌästənˈtāSHəs/
    adjective
    1.
    characterized by vulgar or pretentious display; designed to impress or attract notice.

    We need to introduce into Law the concept of Ostentatious Stupidity, as grounds for firing a public official.

  17. Dirge March 4, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    Remember, no child’s life or safety is worth breaking the rules set up for their safety. Common sense has no place in this world.

  18. Jen (P.) March 4, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    This kind of ties in with the scout story below. Don’t tell, but when I was a brownie troop leader, I tended to ignore that little rule requiring chaperones and cookie booth helpers to be dues-paying members. And if I saw a kid in a wet swimsuit outside in freezing weather during a fire drill, I’d put her in my car to keep her warm, ridiculous rules be damned. I feel like such a rebel 😀

  19. lollipoplover March 4, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    “It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”

    Anyone with car keys in their pocket and a heart would put this girl in a warm car. Or give her all their outerwear to warm her if they couldn’t find her shelter.

    What a vulgar display and lack of humanity when no one uses common sense in an emergency.

  20. Silver Fang March 4, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    They’ll change the rules if she gets pneumonia and her family sues.

  21. Warren March 4, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Okay, unless the fire was in the female’s changeroom, why was she not allowed to grab her clothes in the first place? She didn’t have to get changed inside, but she could have at least grabbed them to throw on when she was outside.

  22. CM March 4, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    For this very reason alone, I have given my son permission to defy rules if it puts him in peril. He may only be 11, but I trust his common sense over a teacher who only follows rules handed down by higher ups.

    Even a workplace environment with their own strict evacuation procedures allows people with disabilities, pregnancy, etc., a pass during a drill. Why should my child be afforded no less?

    While I don’t treat my child as a special snowflake, I would have words with the staff if this occurred to him. When there are cold weather alerts, wind chill adviseries, and shelters are open for the homeless to get out of the cold, forcing anybody who is soaking wet in only a bathing suit to be outside in those frigid temps is tantamount to abuse.

    If this was a seniors aquafit class, what would the rules have been then?

    Why is it that our children are not treated as human until they are 18?

    Ridiculous.

  23. CrazyCatLady March 4, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    I would have been fired. My whole class would be going to my car. I would have had a couple of large boys carry this girl and any other kids without shoes, to my car. I would put as many as possible in my car, and turn it on, with the heat up high.

    I grew up in upstate New York, and I only remember four days when school was canceled. One was when it snowed a foot an hour and my bus got stuck on the way home after our early release. The other ones had to do with wind chill. When it was wind chill at 20 below, school was canceled as they didn’t think that boots and coats were warm enough. And this poor girl had to stand out in that weather in a wet bathing suit? Those teachers were all cowards. There is no way a teacher would stay fired after the press got a hold of the story.

  24. Havva March 4, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    That is an awful way to learn the importance of standing up to authority. It will take a while for the lesson to sink in, but I suspect she will be quit angry when it sinks in that she could have fought back and her teacher wouldn’t have been able to stop her. I have an injury from half my life ago that fells me once or twice a year. All because I didn’t stand up to my ballet teacher, when she demanded I disobey doctor’s orders, and threatened to pull me from the recital. I learned the hard way that there are worse things than what a teacher might threaten. I’m sorry this girl will be suffering so long.

    And like E. Simms, I also thought of the girls who burned to death because the Mutawa wouldn’t let the girls out or the firefighters in.

  25. MichaelF March 4, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    This all goes back to the lawsuit posting you made previously, I was under the impression before but am not sure that it’s all done to avoid expensive and in some cases frivolous lawsuits. Rather than think things through everyone just runs to the courts now and tries to get their own piece of the pie.

  26. Ann in L.A. March 4, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    A comment by the parent is absolutely right: if they had done something similar, CPS would be on the case.

  27. TRA March 4, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    I feel that this is so outrageous that the teacher’s name should be printed as I would be having a real long discussion with her for lack of common sense. Our schools are infested with ignorant no common sense teachers and principals that need to be filtered out of the teaching business. If we don’t do it you will wake up some morning without a school. I am old enough to see this rapidly changing situation get to the danger point. Then you have adults filling positions like we have now in washington that are too stupid to decide anything.

  28. lisa March 4, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    We are doomed…

  29. EricS March 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    Ahhh…the (stupid) things schools do to keep their own asses safe. 😉 I’m not one to call out “child endangerment”, but if this isn’t a legit call for one, I don’t know what is. Some educators are just stupid people who managed to get a diploma or certificate to be a teacher. That doesn’t make them SMART. Because if they were, and truly cared about the “safety” of kids, they’d know about HYPOTHERMIA, and that it can set in in minutes. And this girl was only wearing a bathing suite. WOW! They really have no business dictating the lives of children. Educate…sure. Dictate, absolutely not. That is the job of parents.

    If I were the parents of this girl, I’d hit the school where it hurts the most…their pockets. I’m not one for litigation, but this is an extreme case. The school needs to answer for this stupid, stupid decision. THAT is endangering a child’s well being. All because they don’t want to get sued. Well, guess what St. Paul, you just opened up a whole can of rotten worms for being ignorant, and not using basic common sense. I’m all for litigation, not for monetary gain, but to force schools to stop being so stupid, and selfish.

  30. EricS March 4, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    The immediate safety and well being of any child should supercede ANY rule. Especially rules that are primarily made up to protect the school or establishment.

    If I were the teacher, I would have told the girl to sit in my car regardless of policy. Better to answer for “breaking the rules” to ensure the well being of a student. Then to answer for the detriment or death of that student. It’s a me, me, me world out there.

  31. Warren March 4, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    What about the other students, are they that afraid or brainwashed that one of them didn’t put her in their car? I sure as hell would have. Put her in my car, got it running and the heat on.

    I would have had no problem facing the admins. for that.

  32. J.T. Wenting March 4, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    “Anyone with car keys in their pocket and a heart would put this girl in a warm car. Or give her all their outerwear to warm her if they couldn’t find her shelter.”

    In our society, where everyone so much as touches a child not their own is branded a pedophile?
    Forget it, my life is worth more to me than that.
    THAT’s what society has caused, people are afraid to even look at children, let alone help them, for fear of being arrested on trumped up charges, sued by litigation happy fellow citizens, or ending up on the hit list of some vigilante group out “hunting pedophiles”.

    And it’s not just children that suffer from this, it’s disabled and elderly people as well.

  33. Lindsey March 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=El50iu7w6Y8

  34. Havva March 4, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    @Warren,

    Can’t say for certain, but it was possible student cars were too far away and they didn’t guess how long the teachers would take to do the right thing. When I was in highschool teachers and students parked in separate lots with teachers getting prime parking. It would have been a 5 minute hike or so, under conditions not involving huddling a person on the verge of freezing to death. So my guess is the student cars were far away, and they thought a teacher would respond quicker than they could retrieve a student car (and quicker obviously than the teachers did).

  35. Papilio March 4, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Because of course the precious protocol that should ensure kids’ safety is more important than… kids’ safety.

    Again rules, important rules, matter-of-life-and-death rules.

    “While I don’t treat my child as a special snowflake (…)”
    If only this girl HAD been a snowflake – then she wouldn’t have had this problem! (lame joke, I know)

  36. anonymous this time March 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Whoops! “Protecting” a young woman from the IMPROBABLE danger of being “molested” in a teacher’s car while ensuring that she suffer the IMMEDIATE danger of permanent disability due to frostbite…

    Child-care FAIL.

  37. Angela March 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Just this winter I managed to get frostbite, albeit a rather mild case. My dumbass dog ran to say hi to the neighbors accross the street as they were shovelling. Since I have run to the mailbox barefoot in the snow, I didn’t bother putting shoes on before I chased after him. I believe it was barely above zero degrees at the time.

    It took less than 15 minutes, most of the walk on a snow-cleared black-topped road (I was hoping the sun had warmed it enough to be comfortable). The initial pain, same as the pain you felt as a child coming in from outside in the winter and thawing out your hands/feet, lasted hours. Milder stinging continued for a week. It’s been weeks now and there are still purple blisters I have to watch for infection. My toes still sting whenever they get cold or, interestingly enough, too hot, and this may (although, it’s not likely) last my entire life because it is from nerve damage.

    These school officials forced the girl to go outside in negative temps in nothing but a wet swimsuit, and they thought this was OK at the time?

  38. BL March 4, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    @Angela
    “These school officials forced the girl to go outside in negative temps in nothing but a wet swimsuit, and they thought this was OK at the time?”

    They followed procedure. Anything else is doubleplusungood crimethink.

  39. EricS March 4, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    @JT Wenting. That’s such a sad mental state. And one of the reasons why more and more people stop helping each other, like we did in the past.

    Regardless of how people have become to think, nothing of that sort is against the law. I still look at kids of all ages. As much as I look at adults of all ages. It’s a natural thing in people…to look. Not as a means to be perverted, but establish communication, understanding, and to make connections. This is why Anthropology is around.

    I’m a humanist. To me what is right is right, what is wrong is wrong. Helping someone in need is the right thing to do. And if some “holier than though” idiot wants to sic the cops and CPS on me, go right ahead. I will use the full extent of the law (not some biased opinion of know it alls) to make sure they face the consequences of THEIR actions.

  40. EricS March 4, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    @BL. Does “following procedure” mean you stop using common sense? If you know the procedure WILL put children in harms way, will you still follow it? Or use better judgment so the kids are safe? Remember, these rules/polices/procedures are made by people. And people are not always guaranteed to make the best decisions when it comes to making policy for the masses. Because not every situation is the same for everyone. You can’t make ONE policy to cover each one of those. That’s why we have what is called COMMON SENSE and LOGIC. For the times when rules are incapable and inadequate of addressing the situation at hand. Common sense and logic keep the rest of us from getting caught with our pants down.

  41. Tim March 4, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    We had to destroy the child in order to save her.

  42. Donna March 4, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Warren – It is very possible that the only people who knew she was outside dressed that inappropriately were the students in her own gym class who were huddled around her. Since she is only 14, the odds of those classmates being old enough to actually drive a car to school are pretty slim.

  43. Donna March 4, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    By “people,” I meant students. I do know that the teacher knew as well.

  44. Suzanna March 4, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    Is this a government run public school? I’m assuming it is, because of the absurdity of the circumstances. But there is the slight possibility it could be a private school.

  45. Ben March 4, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    That earlier post about teaching kids what to do if you’re locked out in cold weather should’ve been written earlier. In that case, the teachers might have been taught themselves and no for a fact that by not letting that girl sit somewhere warm they’re actually putting her at risk of frostbite, hypothermia and other serious medical emergencies.

  46. Warren March 4, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

    Donna,
    Chances are there were alot of students other than her classmates, because during school evac’s the students are all taken to one or few locations for head counts, and control.

  47. Donna March 4, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    Warren – It is possible. We didn’t all evacuate to the same place in high school for fire drills (for bomb scares we all did go to the stadium). We just went out the nearest exit (we had about 8) and moved a certain distance away from the school and stayed there. We also had several outbuildings that were single classes. Depending on location, we may be with lots of kids or just our class.

    The point is why always the need to speculate, assume you know exactly what was going on and find new people not listed in any facts to blame?

  48. BL March 4, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    @EricS
    Good heavens, EricS, was the sarcasm in my post that hard to see? Or do you think I routinely talk in Orwell’s Newspeak?

    Of course I agree with what you said. That’s the point.

  49. hineata March 4, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    Am so glad we don’t have to follow ‘procedure’ for something like this. It actually sort-of impresses me that the teachers knew the procedure straight-off, though I suppose this is a high school. I quite often have kids in my car for different things, and have picked students up from their homes etc with no hassles – am not sure what our actual ‘car’ policy is…..

    It is another wet very windy day in Wellington right now, the kind where you would offer rides or shelter to total strangers who looked in trouble. And while you could conceivably die of hypothermia in it, there’s not danger of frostbite. I just hope we never get so stupid as this……

    Tell me most schools wouldn’t do this. Please.

  50. Kelly March 4, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    As long as our society remains so litigious and does not take responsibility for themselves, administrators shall live in fear and set these ridiculous no tolerance rules.

  51. Steve March 4, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Como Park High School in St. Paul has joined the public school insanity throughout America. (I hope somebody is compiling all these stories on a website somewhere.)

    Most people assume that a trusted authority figure is not going to ask them to do something that endangers their life. That was this girl’s mistake. She trusted the teachers to do the right-thing instead of the rule-thing. She also was not prepared by a Free Range Parent to break the rules herself when personal safety became a concern.

    Unfortunately, too many school teachers and staff seem to fixate on kowtowing to The Almighty Rule Book.

    In general, rules save time and bring order to situations that might otherwise become chaotic. But…

    In light of the story Lenore posted not long ago about research on allowing kids to do anything they wanted to at recess — and even suspending all recess rules — the study proved that permitting individuals to make personal choices achieved a FAR BETTER outcome than having TOO MANY rules.

    Here’s that story if you missed it:
    http://www.freerangekids.com/unsafe-playground-happier-safer-kids/

  52. Amy March 4, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

    On another note, students at the local elementary school (grades 3-5) were made to go back outside and line up again as they were out of control the first time. They weren’t allowed to get their coats back on and it was 20 degrees. The parents freaked out and the principal emailed an apology; he’d been gone that day and learned of the incident later. They were outside for just a few minutes. I say it was a well earned/learned lesson on consequences of bad behavior with no bad outcome. Am I too cold-hearted? Any thoughts?

  53. Warren March 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

    Donna,
    And you are now speculating and assuming just so you can argue.
    To assume that in a high school evac, that this girl’s class would be all by themselves, is ridiculous.

  54. AJ March 4, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    The first question is to ask why do schools insist on starting swim class in the dead middle of winter? I went to elementary school in Buffalo, NY, and all my “school-life”, swim class didn’t start until after winter began. Junior year of high school I had it 1st period (going from cold/wind/snow straight into cool water), and senior year I had it last period (going from cool water straight outside into cold/wind/snow). Fortunately, the only time a fire drill happened during swim was in elementary school, and then, staff told the PE teacher that a drill was going to happen that day, and we only had to sit on the side of the pool when it did; no going outside.

  55. Reziac March 4, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    This situation was insanely stupid. As many have pointed out, the most dangerous part of life today may well be the rules that supposedly keep us ‘safe’. What if it had been a real fire and a real emergency? Would this poor wet kid still be required to stand out in the wind, or would they have then herded the kids into some freezing cold bus with no working heat? (When I was in school, our busses never had any heat.) I swear, anyone who enforces such rules in the face of common sense is too stupid to live.

    ===

    Lindsay posted:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=El50iu7w6Y8

    Isn’t that great?! What you may not realise is that it’s 20 below zero there, if not colder (before wind chill). They also do this in Siberia… and pour water over themselves while they’re outside in the snow (both 5YO kids and 60YO teachers). They believe it strengthens the body, and they’re probably right (a little physical stress is good for you).

    However, half-naked kids *actively playing* in the snow is a far cry from having to *stand still* when you’re wet and the wind chill (much more important than air temperature) is -25 or so. Playing kids generate body heat. Wet kids standing still do nothing but lose body heat.

  56. Omri March 4, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    I wonder, where are the teacher unions?

    If they want to protect the standing and reputation of their constituents, they have to stand for the right of teachers to use their judgement. What’s the point of getting a bachelor’s degree and a cert if you’re still nto allowed to act like an adult afterwards?

  57. JP March 4, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    Well, another example of how normal adult common sense is nowhere to be found.
    A cold kid who needs to get warm.
    A particular contingency that needs individual attention.
    An adept decision required by a specific problem.

    Meanwhile a whole horde of professionals seem incapable of thinking this through to a logical conclusion and acting accordingly.
    And how does this happen? (More to the point: why?)

    because protocols, policies and procedures become more important than the actual “safety” they’re supposed to be designed to promote.
    That little touch of dark irony should wake them up, no?
    We can only hope.

    This could have (and should have) been solved easily and effortlessly.
    But somehow it’s okay to put a kid at risk of hypothermia, than to allow them access to a source of immediate warmth (the inside of a car?) Why not have filled up the entire car with under-dressed kids? That way…no “adult” has room to manoeuver in there in any un-correct way.
    Make ’em all the same gender, of course. Use your brains. Get over it!

  58. Kathy and Terry March 4, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    I think ALL the teachers and administrators should be made to go swimming and then forced to stand outside in the COLD for at least 10 minutes barefoot and wearing swimsuits. Maybe then their brains would work better and they’d have a little sympathy for the student that got caught in that predicament.

  59. SOA March 4, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    I am sure the students were too scared to put her in their cars because they would be in trouble too. At our school if you went out to your car during the school day without an office pass to do so, automatic suspension I believe. They were scared you might get alcohol or a cig. The HORROR!

  60. SOA March 4, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

    See and because our school does not allow kids to wear coats to class past elementary school (they must be kept in lockers) that means all kids go outside and freeze during drills or even when walking to outside classrooms in portables or between buildings. Now we live in the South so it is not super super super cold, but still it can get pretty cold especially this Winter. They are afraid of course kids might hide a gun or drugs or something in a coat so no coats in class.

  61. AlbertaParent March 4, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    Another example of cold weather, policies around child safety & those stemming from liability management, and common sense:

    calgary-bus-driver-kendra-lindon-was-fired-for-using-her-suv-to-pick-up-children-rather-than-let-them-freeze
    Read it here:
    http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/03/03/calgary-bus-driver-kendra-lindon-was-fired-for-using-her-suv-to-pick-up-children-rather-than-let-them-freeze

    Unfortunatly, common sense, weighing the risks and exercising discretion in picking the least dangerous course of action appears to have been outlawed. After reading the comments on that article it seems to me that way too many people are of opinion that there is no place for community spirit, good neighbours and simply good citizens – anything that seems strange to a passer by must be reported to none other but a registered, paid authority such as 911, police, EMS, etc..
    It is a sad world we live in.

  62. bmj2k March 5, 2014 at 12:30 am #

    @Omri
    I know from experience that the teachers union would not be on the side of letting the child sit in a car. Teacher’s unions are there to protect TEACHERS, not children. If they say otherwise they are lying. In this case, they would say, letting a child sit in a teacher’s car would open the teacher up to all manner of (probably ridiculous and improbable) accusations of impropriety. I agree that it is ridiculous, but that is the truth. (This is not to say that individual teachers are not on the side of kids, I believe they are, but union bureaucracy is not.)

    I had an experience where the NYC teachers union reprimanded me for breaking up a fight in my classroom where one student was causing another to bleed from the head. The teacher’s union did not want me to get hurt. I can understand that, but I was told that the fight between the kids was “their own problem.” The next time, I called security and had to stand idle for almost 5 minutes before someone showed up and broke it up. It nearly killed me but luckily this was not a major fight or I would have had to get involved.

  63. lihtox March 5, 2014 at 1:15 am #

    I wonder if the administration has some sort of “zero-tolerance” policy regarding their teachers? If a teacher had broken the policy, would the administration have fired her summarily? Would the administration have been forced to fire her due to district rules, regardless of their own opinions? Heck, the “no students in teachers’ cars” rule must have really been pounded into them for that to even occur to the teachers at that moment.

    I mean, I am quite familiar with the uncertainty the teachers must have been feeling: they didn’t know how long the fire drill would last, they didn’t want to start walking with her to the car if there were only a few seconds left, they didn’t want to risk being fired (who does?), maybe it will be over in a minute. No, ok maybe just one minute more. Or one minute more. In situations like that it’s easy for “one more minute”s to pile up. I doubt the teachers were heartless, they were just paralyzed by indecision, and maybe fear of what would happen.

    All speculation on my part, of course.

  64. Warren March 5, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    What kind of schools do you have down there?

    Need a pass to go to their car?

    You guys do not have schools you have prisons, pure and simple.
    Like the whole not allowed to leave campus, having to submit to random searches of cars, and the like. God Bless America the new USSR.

  65. Leonard March 5, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Keep in mind that the stupid no-tolerance rules are a consequence of over-protective parents demanding that their children be absolutely safe at all times in all situations. I would be more likely to believe the sincerity of the commenters if they all went to the schools and demanded an end to no-tolerance rules prior to something similar to this incident occurring. That of course would require them to accept some responsibility for their own children’s risks themselves. It is too easy to blame “faceless bureaucrats” and express moral outrage after the fact.

  66. J- March 5, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    On the plus side, once the family’s lawyer gets does with the school district, the girl will never have to worry about borrowing money for college, or med school, or even a house after that.

  67. Maggie March 5, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Wasn’t there a satellite building on the grounds where they could have allowed her to wait? We had an enclosed concession stand at the athletic fields.

  68. Paul March 5, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Don’t be too hard on public school teachers and staff. They don’t know any better. They honestly think a 6 year old pointing his finger is dangerous. Give them a break, and have patience with them, but for Pete’s sake, don’t trust them with your kids!

  69. jj mccarthy March 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    girl not damaged. after photo op, others give coats and warm things. girl sues. school board decides litigation more than settlement, even though school policy was followed. pays $100,000. taxes go up. teacher gets fired. students lose swimming PE. girl gets new clothes, new car when she is 16, goes on trip with parents. lawyer gets $30,000. family money gone in 1 year. parents mad because they didn’t settle for more. does our legal system need repair???

  70. EricS March 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    @JJ McCarthy: “girl not damaged”? Hmmm…guess you’ve never had frostbite before. lol This could have all been averted if ALL adults thought of the children first, rather than themselves. Schools and institutions make these crazy rules these days, primarily to cover their asses. Because litigation has become a very popular thing for people to make a quick buck. That includes parents USING their children as an excuse to sue. “Using” is totally different from “thinking about” (as in thinking of their well being). Many adults are selfish people. It’s a me, me, me world. And their children eventually learn that trait.

    So now, you have all these “zero-tolerance” rules, and teachers and students alike are too afraid to break them, regardless of situation. Much like many people would walk over or around a person who has collapsed on the ground, for fear of any lawsuits should something happen to he fallen person while they cared for him/her. It’s a sad state the world has become. Back in my day, it was common to see people helping people, more often than not. And often times they didn’t know each other. When schools thought of the kids first, before themselves or the school. Teachers disciplined students who needed it, and parents supported them (not sue them). Back in the day, you would NEVER see this kind of abuse towards students. Teachers would even go against the school board if they found them to be lacking in judgement.

    @BL: Apologies if you took my reply the wrong way. Didn’t see or feel any sarcasm in your reply to Angela. “They followed procedure. Anything else is doubleplusungood crimethink.” Have no idea what you mean by “doubleplusungoo crimethink.” I was replying to your “They followed procedure.” comment. It’s the internet. Others may not see your sarcasm, or light hearted intentions. All they see is what they read. I always try to make sure sarcasms in my posts are very evident. Either by using ;-), :-), or (insert sarcasm). So that readers know I mean no disrespect or ill intent. Just straight up opinion, meant to be taken or disregarded. 😉

  71. bmommyx2 March 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    why didn’t someone give her their coat?

  72. BL March 5, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    @jj mccarthy
    “girl not damaged.”

    Do we know that? Frostbite, depending on severity, can cause long-term problems, like nerve and tissue damage.

  73. BL March 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    @EricS
    “Doubleplusungood crimethink” is from George Orwell’s book 1984.

    In the society of that book, crimethink is any type of thought going against the norms of that totalitarian society. Even thinking such things is forbidden (as, apparently, is letting a wet, swimsuit-clad student warm herself in a car in Minnesota during a dead-of-winter fire alarm).

    Doubleplusungood means, roughly, “very very bad”. Ungood means bad, plusungood means very bad, and double- intensifies the meaning. This is in the language Newspeak, which is explained both in the text and in an appendix Orwell supplied.

  74. SOA March 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    See this is why it is a carousel of cover your ass. So a teacher is not allowed to break up a fight because she might get hurt and then sue the school for her injuries. But then as a parent if some bully was beating up my child, I would damn well expect the teacher to stop it immediately. I would be suing if I found out it was not broke up quick enough and my child was seriously hurt. So then another lawsuit. And around and around it goes.

    Honestly though when I substitute taught I would not have broken up a fight either physically because I am weak and fragile and don’t want to be hurt. I don’t get paid enough as a sub to put up with that. But as a regular teacher I would feel a bit more responsibility about it.

  75. jj mccarthy March 5, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    The diagnosis by the physician or the nurse was “mild frostbite”. Treatment: “To treat frostnip or mild frostbite, gently blow air on the area or place it against a warmer area of the body. For example, place your fingers in your armpit or your palms against your ears, or place your fingers between someone else’s hands.” Hardly permanent damage

  76. Redneck March 5, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    I would draw national Atention to this act of stupidity. A few friends and I would find the school Board and drag their sorry “$( outside in their underwear with buckets of water waiting for them as we chain the door shut.

  77. Tsu Dho Nimh March 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    Something that Free Range parents need to teach their children early is when to buck authority and just say no.

    “When you think you need to say “NO” to a teacher or any other adult … do it, and I’ll back you up. Just have a good reason.”

    Important safety rule to DRILL into all children and adults:

    Do not go from the frying pan into the fire – don’t leave a currently safe place for a place that is less safe (like leaving a probably not at all burning building for known sub-zero conditions unless you are dressed for it). That may mean getting on your protective gear (aka clothing). And it may mean telling your gym teacher “I have no desire to get frostbite of my lady bits. I’m going to get my clothes on. If the locker room is on fire, I’ll let you know.”

  78. Michele March 5, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    Unreal. Clearly, she would have been taken advantage of in the car?! Sad state of affairs. Sad that the school already has a policy in place stating that students aren’t allowed in teacher’s cars.

  79. Maribel March 5, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    The same personality defect means that teachers are scared to say no to testing.

  80. Warren March 5, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    @jj
    How much experience do you have with cold weather health issues, other than googling them?

    Once an area has suffered from even mild frostbite, it is much more at risk of being frostbit again, and faster than the rest of the body. And each recurring time it only gets worse. So ya it is permanent.

  81. Tsu Dho Nimh March 6, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    @ jj mccarthy …. What you are describing is the stage before frostbite, where there is just blanching of the skin but nothing’s frozen yet.

    I’ve had, and I have treated others with “mild” frostbite. Aside from the pain, which is intense, it is a thermal injury just like a partial or full-thickness burn, with skin killed by the temperature, then thawing, blistering and peeling off. And it hurts like hell!

    Even “mild” frostbite can have permanent consequences in arthritis of the affected areas. And, it may not show up for several years, maybe a couple of decades.

    Check PubMed for “frostbite arthritis”.

  82. J- March 6, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    @jj McCarthy: I would not consider this to be a frivolous lawsuit. There was, in this case, a very real potential for great harm. The school created a policy that was to rigidly constructed that no teacher or administrator had the where-with-all to use a modicum of common sense to deal with this girl. The point of a lawsuit, in this case, is to force the district to re-evaluate their policies, to provide more flexibility.

  83. Rae March 6, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    I’m sorry, but how many of you who think this is no big deal have stood outside fully clothed with a -25 windchill for 10 minutes? I live in Minneapolis, this winter has been brutal. I’ve gotten frostnip (not “bite”) on my face just walking from my car through the parking lot to work, in way less than 10 minutes and I was clothed and not soaking wet. This was a dangerous situation, and every adult and probably most of the kids standing there knew it. If this was my kid, I’d be livid. I don’t know if I’d sue, but I’d probably be looking for another school. It’s sad that these teacher’s are so terrified to break protocol that they are willing to endanger a kid. I’m not saying her life was at risk, but what if the teacher was unable to get permission? in -25, it’s 30 minutes on exposed skin before frostbite, dry skin. She absolutely could have suffered permanent damage, and hypothermia in weather like this when you are 1/2 dressed and wet is a real risk. I can excuse the southern readers, but these teachers live in St. Paul. The knew better.