Weirdest School Reaction to Sandy Hook Yet

Hi Readers — A few posts back, I asked you to send in the changes, if any, your schools were making in the wake of Sandy Hook. This one is the strangest. – L

Dear Free-Range Kids: I heard from a friend today who went to her first grader’s holiday concert. Not only were they required to sign in, but they had to turn in their car keys in the office! What the heck? What on earth did that accomplish except a huge headache for the admins working in the office?

What the heck is all I can say about those administrators, too. Well, also: How dare they? And what’s their point? And I hope they feel a whole lot safer, now that they’ve punished all the parents for attending the holiday concert by CAR, just like a terrorist would! – L.

Children won’t be safe until parents have to ask the principal for their keys back.


56 Responses to Weirdest School Reaction to Sandy Hook Yet

  1. Susan December 27, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Our schools biggest change was they started locking the front door

  2. Kelli December 27, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    Unless they were serving lots of booze at this children’s concert, this makes no sense.

  3. Joel December 27, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    Most any security protocol handled by a school is only for show and easily circumvented by anyone with half a brain. It’s actually harmful because it encourages people to feel safe and less attentive. I’ve been told I couldn’t pick up my kid because I didn’t have a car tag only to be shuffled inside where I picked up my kid without any sort of ID verification.

  4. Fred December 27, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    So what if the parents turn in only one set of car keys? Or the keys to their neighbor’s car?

  5. Jennifer December 27, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Great. So if there is some crazy there, no one can leave. The school has made all of the families sitting ducks.

  6. Gail December 27, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Time for parents to get together and revolt at being treated this way. School employees work for the parents, who pay the taxes that pay their salaries. School employees are not the boss of the parents. What the heck!

  7. jb December 27, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Right. Because any school shooter would give up their keys as opposed to starting by shooting the person asking for the keys.

    It is shocking how many responses to tragedies like this not only are bad ideas, but wouldn’t even have prevented the tragedy in question.

  8. Merrick December 27, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    What if the parents walked and didn’t have car keys?

  9. alexandra Larson December 27, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Next they will want certification proving no mental illness.
    77% OF THE POPULATION has it in on form or another.
    You are no getting my keys, so I guess my kid does not sing. Fi on the why don’t they just install snipers on the roofs? The PC police can go blow, thanks to the kids who were taught their self esteem was more important than the rules…

  10. Rich Wilson December 27, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Why would someone who likely doesn’t expect to survive what they’re about to do care about their car keys?

    What’s really alarming is that people tasked with educating kids came up with this idea.

  11. Summer December 27, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    Alexandra, the thing that jumped out at me from your comment is that 77% figure for mental illness. What does it say about us as a society when we classify 77% of the population as “mentally ill” in the first place? Yes, there are genuinely mentally ill people out there, and the Sandy Hook shooter certainly was one of them. But maybe our entire view of what constitutes “healthy” and/or “normal” is horribly skewed. Otherwise, how could such an enormous percentage of our population fall into the “mentally ill” category?

    Frankly, I think that goes right back to the heart of our children’s own well-being, given that virtually everything outside a very narrow range of behavioral types is classified as being the product of this or that “disorder”. Maybe it’s time for our society to realize that human beings come in a much wider variety of styles than the currently-accepted “standard” model, and learn to accommodate that. It might go far toward alleviating some of the problems otherwise likely to occur as future generations come of age.

  12. Paul Streby December 27, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    While this certainly is crazy enough to be true, this sounds like it could be a FOAF (friend of a friend) story: note that the person who reported the story said it happened at her friend’s kids’ school. I suspect that if the friend were asked, she’d say, “No, it wasn’t at MY kids’s school. I heard about it from so-and-so while I was at the first grade concert.” So-and-so, in turn, would have heard it from a neighbor, who heard it from a cousin, etc., ad infinitum.

  13. JJ December 27, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Did they think it was a post-prom party?

  14. Violet December 27, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Summer, Amen. But I will say that my brother is most certainly mentally ill. He is schizophrenic and lives in an adult home. And he absolutely LOVES to attend my son’s concerts and parades!!!!! What if “they” decide that my son’s uncle, who statistically is no more violent than the rest of the population, can no longer support him in his music?

  15. Havva December 27, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Well finally addressing a real danger… the number of people on the roads in winter! /end sarcasm

    If they tried to use Sandy Hook as an excuse for this, I really hope most of the parents told the administrators that they were out of their ever loving minds. And if the school thinks the music is that bad, the parents have no intention of being held hostage listening to it. Then kept walking keys still in pocket.

    But this is second hand… so hopefully the real reason had to do with managing a tight parking situation. … Now if only I had more faith in that hope.

  16. Jim Collins December 27, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    I’ve heard that 77% number before. Here’s one of the reasons for it.
    “How to Hack Public Schools”

    “3. Classify your kid as having some sort of learning difference. Get your kid an Individualize Education Plan (IEP) early on so that they get unlimited time taking the SAT. The classification is not reported to colleges, so it’s just seen simply as a really high score.
    You might think this is extreme, but in New York City parents get their kid classified as special needs in order to get a leg up getting into elite preschools. So doing this to get into an elite college seems fine. And look, it’s hard to get an IEP when your kid is two years from taking the SAT. Everyone wants an IEP then. It’s easy when you have a first-grader. Most first graders look like they need an IEP when they are in school because school is so uncomfortable for young kids.”

    This website seems to be the exact opposite of “Free-Range Kids”.

  17. Mell December 27, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    I agree with Summer’s comment. It is time to say enough to these mentally ill classifications. It muddies the field and makes it more difficult to get true mental illness treated. I think it is a byproduct of the insurance industry. Everything needs a diagnosis so they can decide if they are going to cover it or deny it. And of course pharmaceutical companies need to develop drugs, and grant money needs to be applied for.

    I just tell my son we are all a little messed up in the head because we are human(some more than others): you just need to figure out what kind of messed up you are, always work on your weaknesses, and figure out what kind of messed up you can deal with and want to spend your time with! Lol.

  18. Alex R. December 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    If that had ever happened at my child’s school, I would have made someone totally miserable. (Your voice is an anti-stupidity weapon. Use it!)

  19. Walter Underwood December 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    I expect they ask for the car keys to make sure that people will sign out.

  20. Jim Collins December 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Not the insurance industry Mell, the teacher’s unions have a lot to do with this. Because of limitations in the school’s contract with the union, the more kids that are put into these classifications, the school has to hire more teachers.

  21. Emily December 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Actually, we have always had to turn in our keys upon entering my kids’ schools, long before the Sandy Hook shooting. I thought it was weird but, whatever. And yes, it is so that you sign out and turn in your “visitor” badge when you leave.

    Now that I think about it, “big” events where large #’s of parents visit during the school day, the key rule was not utilized, but this past Christmas sing, it was. I didn’t see it as a change in policy, rather the enforcing of a policy that was in place but ignored when so many were going to be there that badges were not used. So, yes, very silly. When we left, all of our keys were just laid out on a table to be taken. My biggest concern about it was that someone would grab my set and I’d be standing there waiting for someone to return upon realizing they couldn’t get into their own car. LOL!

    It’s an annoying practice, I will agree, and I don’t think it really improves safety at school. At the same time, it doesn’t affect my children’s experience – it doesn’t make them less “free range.” What it potentially affects is parental involvement in the school. Turning my keys in upon arrival is not enough of an inconvenience to keep me away. Required background checks, so far, have been a deterrent to chaperoning on field trips. And, IMO, provides much more of a false sense of security.

  22. dancing on thin ice December 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Alexandra – The more common official percentage I hear from mental health professionals is 23%, the opposite of 77. 3/4 or 1/4 is suspiciously high and like other lists, may be taking time and resources away from those needing watching. I question the prescribing of drugs when testing is about symptoms such as how one feels vs checking for physical ailments.
    I may think different than average folks, but while others may try to classify them as weaknesses, I use my quirks for finding solutions to problems.

  23. ShortWoman December 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    I think I would have blinked and said “I walked.”

  24. Alaina December 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    My parents are schoolteachers, I’m friends with schoolteachers, and I can tell you this was not the teacher’s idea. They hate it at least as much as you do, and probably think it’s stupid.

    I can name a dozen stupid rules and precautions the school board (who don’t actually spend any time in the schools) or the principals (who lecture the teachers and sympathize with the bad kids over their ‘difficulties’) come up with. If the teachers don’t enforce them, they could get letters of reprimands put on their files, suspended, or– depending on the situation and the strength of the union– fired.

    If you refuse to do something stupid like this, do so as politely as possible; they’ll probably be happy to give you the school board’s number to complain to.

  25. Bill Dyszel December 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    That’s really weird, but I’d bet it’s not the weirdest. I bet there’s a weirder one we haven’t heard about. Irrational reactions can get pretty extreme, especially when you throw in a tiny bit of truth and a whole lot of exaggerated fear.

  26. Bob December 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    I wonder if it was a way of keeping parents from disrupting the festivities by getting up and leaving when their kids performance was done?

  27. Tara December 27, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    How exactly does this help keep kids safe? Yeah, this may be the weirdest.

  28. gap.runner December 27, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Has anyone verified this story on Snopes? This sounds too bizarre to be true, although they say that truth is stranger than fiction. Every time I read stories like this, I thank my lucky stars that my son is in a German school where the administrators are still sensible.

  29. Paul December 27, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    TOTALLY UNSAFE! What if there’s an emergency and I need to take my kid to the doctor or hospital or whatnot. Or what if I bike with my kid to school but then a friend says “here use my car” for that emergency.

    Whacko whacko whacko is all I can say about this one.


    – Encourages us to bike our kids to school to avoid this silliness (yahoo!)

    – Let’s the parents experience the same sense of feeling trapped, controlled, claustrophibic and powerless that we are putting on our children already during their upbringing.with all the existing school bureaucracy rules. Let the parents eat their own stew this time.

    – Let’s take it one step further and confiscate the school officials keys and hand those to the PTA president until she determines that all children have been properly and safely accounted for at the end of the day, to be released only after all parents phone in that their kids arrived home safely.

  30. Lollipoplover December 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Maybe my mind’s perverted, but my thoughts went right to a key party a la the Seventies.

    Is this school offering a valet service? Otherwise, I’ll keep my house/car keys with me, thank you very much.
    Or perhaps ride my bike and hand them my seat (and my husbands) to hold with the keys. Encourage others to do the same…

  31. Seth December 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    My school only locked the door as well, but they were reluctant to do it because they feel that something like Newton wouldn’t happen there. Sad

  32. Puzzled December 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    I happen to doubt the existence of mental illness, but even if I didn’t, I’d still doubt the existence of psychiatry as a scientific endeavor. Quite literally, the state of the art of psychiatry is a group of people sitting around a table making things up, then calling it the DSM. Why was homosexuality a mental illness in the past, but not now? Was there some intervening discovery – or rather a change in the culture? Why do we now have gender confusion disorder coming in the new one?

    As far as 77%, or even 25% – the problem is that our notion of healthy and not healthy is bizarre. And that goes back further – we live in a bizarre society. We consider it normal to wake up in a box, rush into another box, race from there to a cubicle, spend your entire day there, before rushing home to scarf down a fast food dinner, get your 5 hours of sleep, and do it again. The body isn’t made for that, so we snack all day, dose with caffeine in the morning, and dose with sleep aids at night. This is our normal, and unhealthy means not reacting well to it.

  33. Marion December 27, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    How would this deter a suicidal school shooter?

    Frankly, I would be more worried about:

    A-The admin staff mixing up keys and losing mine

    B-Someone copying my house keys (they are suspicious of me, why shouldn’t I be suspicious of them?)

    C-Someone overzealous employee searching cars during the concert, in order to report to the police about any “suspicious” items found in my car. (i.e. the “Mike & Ike” computer spying story, committed by the school administration.)

  34. Shannon Severance December 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    “I wonder if it was a way of keeping parents from disrupting the festivities by getting up and leaving when their kids performance was done?” (Bob)

    I think this is more likely, but saying it is for security is probably an easier sell. “We are inconveniencing you because of someone else’s potential behavior.” versus “We think you might not act the way we want.”

  35. Barb December 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    I have been to a band event where they asked you check in your keys and it had nothing to do with safety, they didn’t want the parents to get their kids after they performed and leave so that the students who performed last still had a full audience.

  36. Janet December 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    It saddens me to think that they would need to implement a policy like this to keep an audience for the full performance. What happened to common courtesy?

  37. CLamb December 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Well, it seems that someone finally noticed the danger of motor vehicles. These devices can mow down thousands of children without being reloaded. They can force their way through fences and brick walls. They are filled with tens of gallons of toxic and highly inflammable fluids and lawfully permitted to emit highly toxic carbon monoxide. I’m surprised they didn’t check the licenses and registrations to be sure that folks were legally allowed to use them. Think of the destruction one of these could do in the hands of a madman.

  38. Warren December 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    HOLY CRAP ON A CRACKER!!!!!!!!!!!! Even some of the posters in here, are trying to come up with alternative, acceptable reasons for a school to ask for the keys to my car.

    1. My service truck has two sets of keys, one in my safe, the other on me 24/7, no exceptions.
    2. My car keys also have the house keys, the shed keys, trailer keys and about 30 I forget.
    3. And finally in the spirit of the season, the school employee asking for them would be laughed at, and told “Sucks to be you.”
    4. They have no right nor authority to ask for your keys.

    Why are so many people gutless, and just go along like sheep?

  39. Linvo December 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    I see it all the time at my daughter’s school performances. By the end of the performance the hall is half empty. So ruddy rude! Though I must admit that at the last performance I was kinda glad for rude parents because by the time my daughter was on I had been able to make my way from standing at the back to a 2nd row seat.

    But I still don’t think the staff have a right to treat parents like naughty little kids. Maybe just a polite request to stay till the end would’ve sufficed.

  40. Puzzled December 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    Sometimes parents leave because it’s a big sacrifice to find the time to be there, but they manage, for their kids – not for everyone’s kids. This sounds reasonable to me. I know people who work at night, but will leave to go to these events – and leave as soon as possible, so as to cause less trouble for their coworkers.

    But, I think a few posters who mentioned this point got it right – the group I’m puzzled by isn’t the school, it’s the parents who handed their keys over.

  41. Donald December 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    The Sandy Hook tragedy has shown us that more must do more. We need to aim for zero tolerance. The fact that this is impossible is irrelevant. We can’t sit on our hands.

    We feel better if we take action on something. Anything. Even if it is incredibly stupid. If we:
    Feed the fear hysteria
    Promote prison yard security
    Encourage people to be suspicious of EVERYONE
    Impose actions that would destroy a community so much that it’s would make al Queda proud
    Cause more harm than good 1,000 fold

    This is ok because at least we are trying. How useless the actions are, are completely irrelevant. It’s the thought that counts. We MUST put on a ‘show’ that we’re trying. That takes priority over anything else. So what if we increase anxiety and depression for no apparent reason?

  42. buffy December 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    I would be voting with my mouth on this one. I am a grown adult and, unless I’ve been drinking to excess, no one has any right to confiscate my keys or dictate how much time I should spend at an event.

  43. Trey December 28, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    OK, has anyone asked what the logic behind the key confiscation is? What benefit its supposed to bring? Specifically, asked the principal to come out in front of all the parents at the concert and explain this? And take some questions from the audience?
    Otherwise, are they serving adult beverages at the concert? If its instrumental, it would improve it in my experience. It would also explain why they need to take the keys.
    Failing that, Lenore, name the school. Folks would figure out the principal’s e-mail and phone number quickly enough and see if he or she likes having to explain a stupid idea publicly a few dozen or hundred times.

  44. baby-paramedic December 28, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    My keys, mine. No way in golly goodness would I be letting someone take my keys (unless they could provide a VERY good reason). I would up and leave then and there.

  45. Paul December 28, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    Well, I’m not surprised to hear about such silliness. We cannot expect school admin to be security experts, but they always feel they have to public opinion to get that next school levy passed. So sad.

  46. Warren December 28, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    I really find it hard to understand why anyone would turn over their keys to a school employee, for any reason.

    There is absolutely no reason they could come up with, that would be valid.

    What I find terribly disturbing is the number of parents that just go along with it. Sorry, but if you accept and go along with this practise, you are sheep in need of some therapy.
    If your fears, self-esteem, or lack of conviction allow you to just hand over power to schools, then we are really losing the battle.

  47. Havva December 28, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    @ Warren…
    I think I was the first one to try to come up with alternate reasons. I didn’t think they were acceptable reasons. Just more believable, because seriously there is no way on earth that Sandy Hook could be used as a justification for this.

    As as I said I hope the parents told them it was bull and kept walking keys still in pocket. And I didn’t get the sense that anyone else found any alternate reason acceptable, just more believable.

  48. Andy December 28, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    @Puzzled I take it that you never encountered someone delusional, paranoid or maniacal. You would not doubt mental illness existence then.

  49. Amanda Matthews December 28, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    “This website seems to be the exact opposite of “Free-Range Kids”.”

    Uh, I think that post might be sarcastic. It’s written by a homeschooler who is anti-public-school. Some of the other posts are speaking AGAINST the things she “suggests” in that post.

  50. Puzzled December 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Actually, I have. I’ve worked in the medical profession (paramedic) and went on plenty of ‘mental health’ calls. Thomas Szasz practiced psychiatry for 50 years – would you tell him the same, that he’s never encountered someone delusional, paranoid, or maniacal in his 50 years in asylums?

    Facts are facts. Interpretation is where the action is, and it varies.

    Consider epilepsy. People who denied the existence of the devil and demonic possession were once pointed to epileptics and told “see? Certainly that person doesn’t want to roll around on the ground like that – so how can you deny demonic possession, in the presence of a possessed person?” Today, we know that something else entirely besides the devil is responsible.

    The class of mental illnesses today can be split into those that are nothing but behavior and hence not pathologies, and those that are pathologies of other organ systems.

    However, this has nothing to do with the actual point I made, which was that, even if mental illness exists, psychiatry – as a scientific endeavor – does not. The DSM method of diagnosis is not scientific, the field advances through political decisions, not through discoveries, and no one practicing in the field knows what the drugs used actually do. It is, if anything, in a pre-scientific state.

  51. Emily December 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    My high school music teachers found a way around the problem of parents leaving after their kids had performed, that didn’t involve forcing anyone to turn their car keys in at the principal’s office. Instead, they took a three-pronged approach: First, they taught the youngest students proper “concert etiquette” as a matter of course, as part of the preparations for their first time performing with the grade nine band. Second, they re-iterated this “concert etiquette” in the programs (and added a reminder not to bring “cell phones, electronic devices, or children too young to remain quiet and absorbed by the performance). Finally, to give people a positive incentive to stay, they planned for the entire music department to sing a song at the end of each concert. Also, at the spring concert, band awards were announced at the end of the performance as well, so most of the more dedicated students would want to stay to see if they’d gotten one.

  52. Warren December 28, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    I do not care for what reason the school spouts, they will never get my keys. And if they decide to make an issue out of it, then go for it.

  53. Liz December 29, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    This isn’t a result of the Sandy Hook shooting but a couple months ago my two friends(14) and I(15) went to pick their little sister(10) up at school, two blocks away from where they live. The school knew both girls because they had also attended the school but told them that because they were under 18 it was against policy. I, at 15, work in a daycare center where there are two other 15 year old (boys) on staff. At ten, my sister was making the two mile walk home alone so this seems rather absurd. It also brings up another conflict: what are they do to do about teenage mothers who put their children in onsite daycare facilities? Is the mother then not allowed to pick her own child up at school?

  54. Earth.W December 29, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Home School.

  55. Ann January 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    I was the one who sent the email to Lenore. I asked my friend if she ever found out why they were collecting keys. She said that she didn’t know and didn’t question it since everybody else was doing it as well. It definitely seemed in response to Sandy Hook though. They had never collected keys previously, and she also said normally for assemblies, they can come in through the gym door. All doors were locked except for the front one though, so there were definitely changes in security that day.

  56. Nolan January 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Our school had us line up to sign our kids out. Which makes no sense if a threat intent on using lethal force upon students and staff came in. I’ve been after our superintendent about what the school system philosophy is if a threat committed to using lethal force does breach the school. I’d like a stationed officer and trained teachers to actively engage the threat until offsite law enforcement arrives to actively engage (read actively engage as shoot at). The best I can get out of him is that there is an “increased police presence.” I sometimes see the “increased police presence” sitting in their cruiser, or walking around talking to parents … which is fine as long as he can intercept a threat if it ever happens.