Outrage of the Week: Afterschool Pick-Up Panic!

Readers – If anyone ever asks you, “What’s so WRONG about protecting our children?” and you agree that kids should be safe (who doesn’t?), but you’re searching for an example of how the hysteria has gotten out of hand:  Here nzhyserrsk
you go
. See below. Suffice to say a grammar school in the Fort Myers area of Florida is now INDIVIDUALLY ESCORTING EACH CHILD OUT OF THE SCHOOL as his/ her parents creep to the head of the car line.

The parents must show a large I.D. and the child is then RADIOED FOR. Every time I picture this, I hear helicopters thwomping  and bombs exploding and see the kids hunched and running, like they’re fleeing the fall of Saigon:

Principal Donnie Hopper hopes long car lines will move quickly and student wait times will soon be under 30 minutes at the Cape Coral school as staff, parents and students get used to the changes, designed to provide a safer environment. Many schools around the district are following suit.

The old plan allowed parents to follow along in the car line or park and walk up to the school. In the car line, parents must show a large ID tag with their child’s name on it. A staff member radios the student to the front of the school to meet the parent.

“The only thing that’s changed is that parents can’t walk up to the school to pick up their kids at dismissal,” Hopper said, noting he successfully carried out the same plan at two former schools.

As many as 70 parents used the walk-up method at Gulf last year. “And they weren’t being checked for ID at all,” Hopper said.

Parents must now use the car line, or walkers can wait for their child to be escorted to the front gate by a staff member. Regular bus pickup also is an option.

Got that? Parents are being actively encouraged to use the car line. And yet, one of the reasons the school implemented this new policy is because it didn’t want kids hit by cars. Guess the administrators never realized that 50% of the children hit by cars near a school are hit by cars picking up OTHER children from school.

Beyond the fear of cars, of course, is that ever-present fear of abduction:

“I’ll sacrifice an hour of my time to ensure safety for my daughter,” [a mom named] Connar said, noting the wait is only 10 to 15 minutes longer than last year. “There’s just too many people that, unfortunately, you can’t trust anymore.”

Here’s someone I don’t trust: That school principal, sacrificing at least half a hour of her students’ time to waiting for a personal escort off the grounds. Time that HER generation got to go home, eat a snack and run around, unimprisoned.

I also wonder what parent wouldn’t opt for the school bus option, if they could.

The article doesn’t even mention whether kids can simply walk home on their own two feet in the Florida sunshine, laughing with friends along the way. Somehow I think I know the answer. And remember: “Many schools around the district are following suit.” — Lenore

103 Responses to Outrage of the Week: Afterschool Pick-Up Panic!

  1. Kari September 1, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    Can you please link to the articles you quote? It’s nice to go back and see the source, and it’s common courtesy when you’re using another site’s text.

  2. DFW September 1, 2009 at 9:20 pm #

    I’d like to see it become so onerous and time consuming for parents to drop off and pick up their kids from school that they finally just put them on the bus. We have a great school bus system in my small city, but the kids are “helicoptered” to and from school, and the buses run at a quarter capacity.

    This school should make the parents submit a full digital set of fingerprints prior to having their kids released from lock-up. That ought to slow things down to a painful crawl!

  3. Anna B September 1, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    In addition to the many reasons to hate car lines, all of those cars are idling for an extra 10-15 minutes. Global warming, hurrah!

  4. Uly September 1, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    As many as 70 parents used the walk-up method at Gulf last year. “And they weren’t being checked for ID at all,” Hopper said.

    What ID do they need? The kid running up yelling “MOM! MOM!” isn’t good enough? Has there been a rash of abductions of children snatched from school in this manner that none of us has heard of?

    (And yes, a link would be great.)

  5. beanie September 1, 2009 at 9:36 pm #

    I am also dismayed that kids can’t walk home anymore — that was great bonding/playing time when I was a kid. Unfortunately, Cape Coral, in particular, is not well suited for this, as the city is built around a series of canals. More often than not, you have to drive a mile to get to a house you can see right on the other side of a ten-foot canal.

    But, yeah; this is a really dumb system, IMO.

  6. Chris M September 1, 2009 at 9:40 pm #

    Here is some news coverage of the school.


    This looks like the original article being quoted.


  7. LaShawn September 1, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    The public school my children attended up until this school year is a block and half from my house. My kids always walked (starting at ages 5 and 7). There is a crossing guard at the intersection that also has crossing lights. I am sad to say that though most of the kids who attend that school live less than a half a mile a way my kids were some of the FEW that walked. The carpool line is SO INSANE! Seriously, it basically shuts down traffic in my neighborhood for an hour.


  8. Kirsten September 1, 2009 at 9:46 pm #

    Looks like the parents are petitioning to change it – but only because of the outrageous wait, not the outrageous reason for the wait:

  9. pentamom September 1, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    And once again, if this were in a neighborhood where a significant percentage of the families didn’t have cars and didn’t have a parent free during the middle of the day, they wouldn’t even try this.

    It’s so ELITIST it makes me nuts!

  10. Kirsten September 1, 2009 at 9:54 pm #

    @Uly, I wondered the same thing. I would also think that most abductors wouldn’t be so bold as to try to snatch a child with all of the other parents and administrators around anyway. I wonder if this principal can cite any statistics proving that his way is ‘safer’. Once again, “think of the children” rules over common sense. *sigh*

  11. Kate September 1, 2009 at 10:07 pm #

    “I also wonder what parent wouldn’t opt for the school bus option, if they could.”

    I worked at a school for five years where due to it’s location (across a busy road with no sidewalks) every child was able to ride the bus. Despite the principals encouraging the parents every year to let their kids do just that about a third of students were driven to and from school by their parents. The line of cars was so ridiculous that kids were entering the building after the final bell because of it and parents would arrive as much as an hour before dismissal in order to be near the front of the line.

  12. Teri September 1, 2009 at 10:20 pm #

    They have instituted the same crazy policy at my kids elementary school as well. Fortunately, my kids walk home and are able to simply walk out the door. I don’t know why the carpool people don’t just switch their kids to “walkers” and let them walk down the street to their car.

  13. Anne September 1, 2009 at 10:35 pm #

    Ridiculous. My daughter’s *former* school did this and it was so annoying to see the line of cars parked down the length of the driveway just hanging out. (and this is not the reason it’s a former school, but certainly a bonus!)

  14. Maggie September 1, 2009 at 10:38 pm #

    @Uly – I volunteered at my boys’ school for the entire time both were there, from Kindergarten through 6th grade, from 1996 – 2007.

    In 2001, immediately after 9/11, the district began requiring that all parent volunteers stop in the office first to surrender their drivers license or state ID, in exchange for a bright orange Visitor sticker. People – myself included – refused to comply, because we couldn’t see how taking our IDs was going to keep the kids any safer.

    They also now require ID to pick your kid up for doctor appointments now, and wouldn’t release my 17 year-old to his grandfather last week because he wasn’t on some new “approved caregivers” list that I knew nothing about. Did I mention that Elder Monster is SEVENTEEN? Him chirping “Hey Grandpa!” was a ruse to keep the school staff off the trail of a kidnapper, clearly.

    The district claims it’s a “liability issue”. I’m more of the opinion that the district just doesn’t want to deal with some Nosy Nellie who got her nose out of joint because the children were being treated like people instead of herd animals.

  15. Greg September 1, 2009 at 10:39 pm #

    As a parent with kids in a small town school that is moving ever slowly in this direction I’m appalled. It’s just one more reason why we need to stop this madness now, before it gets fully implemented everywhere.

    I spoke to our principal and he told me the real reason for all this security, at least at out school, is the fear of a parent suing because a former spouse without custody could pick up the child from school. He also said the state government was driving the changes.

    If that is the real reason for all this security then I think the schools should stop making the rest of us pay for the potential problems of a few and instead implement security policies on an individual basis when alerted by the parent. And make it clear that it is the parent’s responsibility to alert the school before hand.

  16. Lola September 1, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    How about frisking both parents and children before delivering the latter? Just in case someone has a deadly weapon on them or (God forbid) some sort of unhealthy candy. Retina scanner, anyone? Or better still, a sort of coveyor belt at school, like the luggage ones they have at the airport, so that each child can pick up their parent (never the other way round, of course)?
    Gee, I should patent one of those, in no time every school will want one…

  17. Dave September 1, 2009 at 10:50 pm #

    Welcome to the police state. The kids are being trained to not trust anyone and the parents are being trained to believe that the priciple knows best. Everyone can make decisions on how to raise children except the parents. They are there to take the blame if any thing goes wrong. The sad part is the parents accept this role and believe it to be a good thing.

  18. sligo September 1, 2009 at 10:53 pm #

    once again, why does anyone wonder why kids are fat???

    Starting in the first grade I rode my bike to school. This was in the 1960’s, and I had to cross a busy street. It had a stop sign and a crossing guard and my parents saw no reason to worry about me. I rode home for lunch, and back for the afternoon. Totally unsupervised. Somehow nothign awful happened to me or to my sisters. We all survived this scary childhood practice unscathed.

    My mom grew up in NYC and she used to take her little brother downtown on the bus to lunch a movie. This would have been in the late 1920’s early 1930’s. She was 8 or 9 and my uncle is two years younger. My grandmother felt she was old enough to keep an eye on him as they rode from the northern tip of Manhattan to 34th Street. Now? well she’d be on the front page of some tabloid as a bad mom, her and my mom!

  19. pentamom September 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    “People – myself included – refused to comply, because we couldn’t see how taking our IDs was going to keep the kids any safer.”

    Oh, Maggie, isn’t it obvious? If they take your license, you can’t make a getaway in a car after scooping up a child out of a room full of other students and teachers and running through the building carrying him while he shrieks in terror! And who would be more likely to do that, than the parent of one of his classmates?

    Doesn’t anyone realize how STUPID it is to waste resources defending against scenarios that involve kidnapping children in broad daylight from crowds of people who know them?

  20. pentamom September 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    Oh, because, of course, no one would would kidnap a child would dare drive without a license to get away!

  21. Waltz September 1, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    My outrage: that there is a link. Was there a brief period with no link? Cuz I see a link. Just kidding
    Anyway. This is so beyond ridiculous. If I were a parent in that school I would be sure to waste some of that principal’s time everyday. Hey, I’ve got 30min to an hour to kill after school, might as well spend it telling Ms. Hopper what a freaking bad idea she had.

  22. pentamom September 1, 2009 at 11:00 pm #

    I used to get really annoyed not at the inconvenience, but at the actual danger both to other drivers and pedestrians, posed by cars clogging the streets around a school that I had to pass to pick up my own child every day. In the name of keeping their kids safe, people were double-parking right up to the intersections, blocking the view of a fairly busy street. Apparently the danger of walking an extra few yards to get to Mommy in the car exceeds the danger of crossing a street full of cars that can’t see past the car in front of them, or around the next corner.

  23. beanie September 1, 2009 at 11:21 pm #

    “I spoke to our principal and he told me the real reason for all this security, at least at out school, is the fear of a parent suing because a former spouse without custody could pick up the child from school. He also said the state government was driving the changes. ”

    @Greg, this was the reason that my daughter’s school had a similar policy (although not quite as ridiculous as the one in Cape Coral): It’s tough to stop a child from running out to “Mommy” or “Daddy” when that parent is supposed to be staying away from the child. A terrible and unfortunate outcome of a society where divorce and domestic violence are continuously increasing…

  24. Rich Wilson September 1, 2009 at 11:24 pm #

    I wonder how long before someone sues the school for the threat to children’s respiratory health due to all those idling cars.

  25. David September 1, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    I think the key to this entire issue can be found in this statement in the article made by a parent:

    “There’s just too many people that, unfortunately, you can’t trust anymore.”

    Notice the subtle use of the word “anymore.” The connotation here is that it used to be safe for kids to be outside unattended after school but that today the world is so much more dangerous (ie there are so many more child abductors) that we can no longer take any chances. And that’s the central fallacy driving the whole thing. People certainly THINK the world is more dangerous for their kids, but they are flat out wrong, and if we cannot defeat that misperception we really have no chance against the people who truly pose a danger to our kids – those who won’t allow us to exercise our parental right to give our children the freedom they need and deserve.

  26. Sierra September 1, 2009 at 11:52 pm #

    I remember being pleasantly surprised, as a reporter covering a school district in New Hampshire, to discover that the kids – even first graders – just walked out the door of the school at the end of the school day. Maybe their parents picked them up, maybe they walked home, maybe they biked, maybe they were picked up by a friend. Parents could make other arrangements, but a large number of the neighborhood kids just flooded out the doors in a pack and then dispersed down local streets, heading for home.

    Of course, that was the “live free or die” state.

  27. Val September 2, 2009 at 12:10 am #

    My daughter starts middle school tomorrow and together we made the decision she can ride her bike to school. The school is 3/4 mile from our house, down one sometimes busy street (mostly from moms dropping off kids at school). I checked with the school and police and she is allowed to ride on the very-wide sidewalk if she feels uncomfortable in the street, and there are no reports of anyone being hit by a car while riding to school.

    Yet you would think we are the worst parents ever, if you listen to the other moms! You cannot even count how many moms have told my daughter how dangerous it is. (She shrugs this off, fortunately.) C’mon!

    Thank you for the article and website. I am so glad I am not the only crazy mom out there who trusts my kids.

  28. Alison Fairfield September 2, 2009 at 12:20 am #

    I am with “Rich” and “Anne” — get those poor children some gas masks, quick!

    And to state the obvious as so many of us do on this site: car pool lines discourage the very community among the parents which provides safety to children, duh.

  29. Dino September 2, 2009 at 12:35 am #

    I’ve dealt with three California school districts in the past few yers.
    In one, there is a school bus stop in front of the home of one of the passengers. That pupil is not allowed off the bus to walk 20 feet to her front door unless her morther meets her at the door of the bus.
    Another district requires a parent to walk their children a block in a quiet neighborhood to the corner to wait for the school bus that will take them a couple of miles away, passing a school just block away plus a second school, to a third school. Children near the third school are under the same rules in order to be bused to the school near the homes of the first group of children. Why? “We’ve always done it that way.”
    I am legal guardian for a 12-year-old in a third district. I was told that I could not enter the campus in order to pick him up for a medical appointment in the principal’s office because I was not his father and that I disrupt his classroom. I’ve never been to his classroom. I called the school district office and they told the peoople at the school that since I am on record as the sixth grader’s guardian, it would “probably be okay” for me to get him for a doctor’s appointment. Of course, I am “armed and dangerous”; there is a nail clipper on my keyring.

  30. Shannon September 2, 2009 at 12:49 am #

    I really don’t understand why they don’t do this just for the cases where there’s some genuine concern about a non-custodial parent trying to abduct the child. I’ve posted here before about a situation like this in my extended family, and it’s quite simple: the custodial parent submits a list of people who are allowed to pick up the child, the child is instructed to remain in the office until one of those people arrives, and nobody who isn’t in any serious danger of kidnapping even has to know about it. And once the child is old enough, it’s probably enough to just tell him/her that s/he can’t go with the other parent, for whatever reason. (In my family’s case, it’s because the non-custodial parent is a drunk harboring a drug dealer and it was absolutely necessary to inform the child that she couldn’t get in a car with her mother or older brother under any circumstances. Because that’s the other thing: it’s not just after school that this can happen. It could happen in her own driveway, and the best way to protect against this, as Free Rangers have often remarked, is to teach kids what to do when they’re in danger, not to put them in rubber rooms. Portable protection.)

    But I agree with the people here who have pointed out the first order of ridiculous here: that there’s a huge line of cars waiting to pick kids up at all. In Southern Florida. Walk, bike, or take the bus. I’d applaud any school that had the guts to institute a “no parent drop off” rule during regular start and dismissal hours. There’s no reason that little Madison and Tyler can’t schlep it on the bus like everyone else did once upon a time, or, better yet, burn off some of those wasted Wii hours on a bike.

  31. Jennifer September 2, 2009 at 1:03 am #

    “I spoke to our principal and he told me the real reason for all this security, at least at out school, is the fear of a parent suing because a former spouse without custody could pick up the child from school. He also said the state government was driving the changes.”

    My family is one that has this kind of situation. Due to a history of domestic violence and threats of kidnapping, my ex husband is allowed no contact with our children.

    For this reason, my children have been taught that they are not allowed to go with their father, and if he shows up at their school, they are to go to the office or to a teacher. The administration and their teachers are aware of the situation, and have the custody order and restraining order on file, as well as a picture of him. (This has been the case since they were in K and 2nd grade)

    There is no logical reason to make ridiculous demands on all families just because a few have special circumstances – if special arrangements need to be made for those families then do so. And it makes way more sense to teach your children how to handle themselves in that situation than to put them on lock down. My kids have not been raised to be fearful – they are quite confident because they have been taught what to do, and given opportunities to build a sense of independence and responsibility.

    I suppose I have plenty of reasons not to be free-range because of our particular circumstances, but I can’t always be there watching over them – allowing them to build the skills and confidence to take care of themselves is of much greater benefit to all of us in the long term, even if it is occasionally uncomfortable for me in the short term.

  32. Kelly September 2, 2009 at 1:04 am #

    I think this is terrible overkill of course. I hope these kids who are being subjected to institutionalized paranoia grow up with a sense of humor about it at least!

    As an aside:

    when my daughter went to public school, they had the “car line” but not this heightened security measure. I always thought it was kind of gross to see SO many idling cars (many of them large gas guzzlers) sitting there, the parents bored or texting and belching exhaust into the air.

    Doing pickup on a bike, I was in and out faster than my driving counterparts. The only unpleasant part was driving through the exhaust.

    I loved picking my daughter up from school, it’s a great little ritual (and I do miss the rituals of school, now that we homeschool).

  33. Nicole September 2, 2009 at 1:57 am #

    I will say that our elementary does a mini version of this for the kindergarten pick up. Two teachers, and a line of cars. Everyone waiting outside, as the car pull sup (like a ride an amusement park), the teacher sends off the corresponding child. I’m sure they have arranged at teh beginning of the year who is doing the pick up so that they can do this quickly. But most kids say, “That’s my mom!!” and run off. I think this is mostly done so no one gets hit by a car and no one gets forgotten.

    I will say that using two-way radios, and doing this all one-at-atime WITH id check for teh whole school is WAY over the top. Can you imagine a 5th grader having to go through that? Its embarrassing!

  34. Karly September 2, 2009 at 3:27 am #

    Obviously you have only had joyous experiences in life. Growing up, I recall the “sunny walk home laughing with friends” being anything but, for many kids. It was fights galore, kids pushing other kids in the street, god help you on snow days. It wasn’t until Junior high when I grew a set and punched Steven Gilbert in the face, splitting his lip with my mood ring, that I had a sembelance of peace. News flash…some kids are bullied and most kids stand by and watch and do nothing to help. And don’t get me started on the texters and chatters driving while dialing. Something our generation never had to deal with. Spend an afternoon driving and see how many are paying attention to everything BUT the road.

  35. Naomi September 2, 2009 at 3:51 am #

    And once again, if this were in a neighborhood where a significant percentage of the families didn’t have cars and didn’t have a parent free during the middle of the day, they wouldn’t even try this.

    It’s so ELITIST it makes me nuts!

    This is one of the reason why I am very, very happy to have my kids at a public school in a big city. My daughter’s school has no pickup line; the vast majority of kids ride the bus, most of the rest walk or bike to school, and the handful of parents who do the daily pickup are expected to park their car on neighborhood streets and walk into the building.

    The bottom line is that schools in urban districts like mine don’t have the luxury of abdicating all common sense to address imaginary problems; we have too many real problems to deal with. It’s a mixed blessing, but my kids have benefited from it in some very tangible ways.

  36. Stephanie September 2, 2009 at 4:18 am #

    That’s just nuts. And to think I’ve been grumbling because the pickup at my daughter’s new school isn’t as open as the one at her old school.

    The old school let parents just walk up to the classrooms at the end of the day to pick up kids. If I wanted to let my daughter be picked up by a friend’s parent it wasn’t a problem. It was a great time to get to know the other moms in her class.

    This year all parents wait in a crowd at the gate. Some choose to stay off campus entirely. But it’s a lot harder to get to know the other parents this way.

    The kids still pretty much come out in a flood, though.

  37. neener September 2, 2009 at 4:30 am #

    Never knew how good I had it, or just how “together” my daughter’s elementary school is!

    At the beginning of the year, parents p/u a big, brightly colored form (as many as they want, and color changes each year), write the child’s name big as life, prop it on the dash – as you move through the line, the teacher alongside the line farther down uses a walkie talkie to call out the name to the teacher at the door. Teacher at the door calls the kid. By the time you get to the door, your kid is there waiting. No ID checking at all and the line zips along. Car line in the front, buses on one side of the building, walkers/bikers exit the school from the other side of the building.

    And: OMG! No kidnappings or kids mowed down yet!

    But…can we all be more careful about assuming ALL kids should walk or ride the bus to school, and if they don’t then the parents are just being ridiculous? I drop my daughter off in the a.m. because the bus is at our house a full hour before school starts but I work a half mile from her school so it’s much easier to drop her @ 7:55am and be at work @ 8am. We all get more sleep…

  38. Lola September 2, 2009 at 4:52 am #

    Cultural, irreconciliable differences… In Spain it´s absolutely impossible to convince people to stand in line for anything, let alone pick your children from school. The custom here is to get as close to the school gate as possible, drop your car wherever it suits you (half-perched on the sidewalk, or second or third line…), switch on your shopping lights and calmly walk to meet your kids and gossip for half an hour or so.
    Fortunately, the school principal found out that tipping the local police helped, because they only allow five to ten minutes gossiping before they start giving tickets away. If they attend at all, that is…

  39. Rich Wilson September 2, 2009 at 5:16 am #


    I got bullied on the way home too. But I don’t think living in a bubble would have solved anything. For one thing, my mom didn’t have an internal combustion bubble. Not in the budget, and not needed where we lived.

    Personally, I just can’t get over the idea of lining up in cars to pick up kids from school. No wonder we’re scared of each other.

  40. Irina September 2, 2009 at 5:48 am #

    This is a grammar school? Teenagers, not toddlers? My three grammar-school students were outraged– they’ve been cycling to school on their own since third grade.

  41. Matt September 2, 2009 at 6:08 am #


    re: “They also now require ID to pick your kid up for doctor appointments now, and wouldn’t release my 17 year-old to his grandfather last week because he wasn’t on some new “approved caregivers” list that I knew nothing about. Did I mention that Elder Monster is SEVENTEEN? Him chirping “Hey Grandpa!” was a ruse to keep the school staff off the trail of a kidnapper, clearly.”

    Wow. Just wow. I remember being a few years younger than your son (junior high), and being released *on my very own* for a dentist appointment. I took the city bus downtown. There was no need for an adult, let alone an “authorized caregiver”, to sign me out.

  42. Rich Wilson September 2, 2009 at 6:19 am #

    “wouldn’t release my 17 year-old to his grandfather”

    I wonder what would happen if any of those recent solo global circumnavigators went to that school.

    Or maybe Pipi Longstockings. If she went to school of course.

  43. Kimberly September 2, 2009 at 6:37 am #

    When we lived in South Carolina, that is how you had to get your child. You were not allowed to pick them up to WALK home unless you SIGNED them out with a VALID ID and then you had to prove your kid was indeed your kid by signing forms. Likewise we had issues walking our son to school.

    So when he got out of school, there was an hour car line to pick them up, all cars had a ID card on the car, which had your picture, your name, your child’s name and what class they were in that had to be displayed at all times. Then, they would radio for your child to come out.

    If you wanted to get out of there quickly you had to show up maybe a half an hour before school let out to get in line and pray you were in the first 20 cars.

    Now we live in California, and today for example, we walked in, my daughter in toe, sat in his class for a bit. I introduced myself as his mother and walked out. Took all of 5 minutes.

  44. sylvia_rachel September 2, 2009 at 6:40 am #

    Good grief.

    And I thought my daughter’s elementary school was absurd for dismissing the primary grades one class at a time and requiring parents to sign their kids out and back in if they go home for lunch. (My kid goes to the before-and-after program, so I take her to school by bus on my way to work and pick her up, again by bus, on the way home.)

    I mean, yes, there are families with custody issues. As someone else said upthread, those families know who they are; it shouldn’t be hard to make individual arrangements, and it shouldn’t be necessary to treat everyone else as equally at risk.

    An extra half hour of idling your car waiting to pick up your kid, every weekday? OMG.

  45. kherbert September 2, 2009 at 7:29 am #

    But is this really added security or getting kids in the cars as fast as possible. We have a similar rule

    1) Bus students are escorted to the gym where they wait in lines to be loaded on the bus. 350 – 400 kids loaded on buses and out in 30 minutes. The first week is a nightmare as the drivers have to check off each kid, but it is smooth sailing now.

    2) Car riders and day care are escorted to the front of the school we have 2 drives. At this time of day one is for cars pick up only and the other is for Day Care only. If a private car pulls up into the day care van line they are made to go around or park – because they zip in and out of the vans endangering the kids (as in driving up on the side walk to get around a van).

    Car riders are given a big pink sign that the person picking up puts on the dashboard with the kids name and grade (we have several kids with the same first and last name in different grades).

    A teacher stands up the drive and counts the cars. She tells the driver 1, 2, 3, or 4 then she radios up Jane 5th grade 1. The teachers on the porch (big old style covered porch anything short of a hurricane the kids can be there and dry) call out the Jane 5th grade 1. Jane jumps up and goes to a Star with 1 in the middle. When the car gets to the star – safety patrol opens the door and the kid(s) jump in. If they are small and need help the safety patrol kids with help them with their safety belts. If they are still in car seats an adult stationed near by buckles them in.

    The cards aren’t about security but having the kids on their star ready to jump in. We can get a 150 – 200 kids loaded and out of the school in about 20 minutes, because we are efficiently loading 4 cars at a time.

    We know the parents/babysiters/aunts/uncles/grandparents on sight. The cards are usually lost or forgotten part way through 1st semester.

    If there is a TRO, RO, termination of parental rights order or other problem – then we work out a pick up method with that parent. Usually they park and go into the office and do a sign out for a few months but that is that parent’s choice for their child.

    3) walkers are escorted by a teacher to the crosswalk – were the teachers act as crossing guard (Today a guy gunned his engine at me and made like he was going to run over my students and me)

  46. Bill September 2, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    Sylvia Rachel said: ” I mean, yes, there are families with custody issues. As someone else said upthread, those families know who they are; it shouldn’t be hard to make individual arrangements, and it shouldn’t be necessary to treat everyone else as equally at risk.”

    But, that has become one of the purposes of the modern public school…everyone has to be treated absolutely equally, with no regard for the consequences, no requirement for any administrator to actually have to think, and, of course, no application of common sense.

    We can’t track kids, so we bore the bright kids to death, and try to force the left side of the bell curve to pursue a ‘college track’ curriculum instead of offering material that might actually teach them employable skills.

    Time to blow the current system totally away and start over. If we peel back the non-local control over the education system we would probably have some very bad schools….but we would also get some really good ones. The current bureaucracy dominated system is in free-fall to the bottom.

  47. Maureen September 2, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    What Bill said times a million.

    When did school age children stop recognizing their own parent/guardian? My ten month old recognizes me and I expect that this will not end suddenly when he turns five. Having such low expectations of our children does not bode well for the future.

  48. pentamom September 2, 2009 at 9:22 am #

    “This is one of the reason why I am very, very happy to have my kids at a public school in a big city. ”

    True dat. I homeschool my elementary-aged kids, but I’m thankful that I live within the limits of a large enough city that the police would fall over laughing if someone expected them to respond to a call about a school-aged child walking down the street. That way, my kids can freely play in my very safe cul-de-sac neighborhood without a hassle. I rather wish the downside wasn’t the worry I have whenever I see an apparently unattended three year old playing close to the curb in some neighborhoods, though.

  49. MaeMae September 2, 2009 at 9:27 am #

    @ Kari – When you see blue type in Lenore’s posts that is the link to the original article. Just click on it and it will take you right to the site.

  50. BPFH September 2, 2009 at 9:34 am #


    You know, I’ve badmouthed Wes Bonzelaar (*my* elementary school principal) repeatedly over the years. But one thing I am certain of, is that he wouldn’t have put up with this crap without a fight.

  51. karla September 2, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    I work in a rural school district that is certainly not elitist. However, we have the same issue w/parents of children who could ride a school bus but instead are dropped off and picked up every day. Ditto the parents arriving 45 minutes to an hour prior to dismissal in order to be one of the first in line, who then sit there w/the car idling, doing their part for the ozone layer. I keep threatening to make up a flyer w/all the local volunteer opportunities listed and pass it out to all those people w/all that spare time. The district I work for has pretty sane pick up policies, but as long as they allow all these parents to line up every day it’s still going to take forever to get the kids on their way home. Plus, good luck leaving before school is dismissed if you work there. Chances are you’re blocked in by a parent parked where s/he should not be. AND, these are often the same parents who say they don’t have time to come in for a parent/teacher conference! It’s all a little crazy!

  52. Aliza G September 2, 2009 at 10:28 am #

    This is a totally stupid idea. But if they have to do it this way, why not stagger the class dismissal times so not everyone is leaving at the same time?

  53. LindaLou September 2, 2009 at 10:33 am #

    Yeah, riding the bus would be a great option if the damn bus didn’t come a full hour before school starts. We live literally a five minute car trip from school.

  54. Aliza G September 2, 2009 at 10:42 am #

    I also want to add that here in my community and county we are not allowed to idle our vehicles for over 3 minutes.

  55. Moriah Jovan September 2, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    At the beginning of the year, parents p/u a big, brightly colored form (as many as they want, and color changes each year), write the child’s name big as life, prop it on the dash – as you move through the line, the teacher alongside the line farther down uses a walkie talkie to call out the name to the teacher at the door. Teacher at the door calls the kid. By the time you get to the door, your kid is there waiting. No ID checking at all and the line zips along. Car line in the front, buses on one side of the building, walkers/bikers exit the school from the other side of the building.

    That’s what happens at my kids’ elementary schools, but:

    1. The buses don’t transport any children to live within a mile of the school.

    2. The children are allowed to walk or ride their bikes at third grade unless they have a sibling who is that age or older. IOW, my 1st grader can’t ride her bike or walk to school for another two years, but by then, her little brother will be in kindergarten and he will be allowed to go with her.

    3. I thought this method was just for the parents’ convenience–and I love it. Silly me. On the other hand, the ladies who radio the kids’ names also know every car we have in our family, me, my husband, my mother, and my aunts, all of whom, at one time or another, picked up my kid. No IDs. They just know who we are.

  56. Deputyheadmistress September 2, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    Here’s someone I don’t trust: That school principal, sacrificing at least half a hour of her students’ time to waiting for a personal escort off the grounds. Time that HER generation got to go home, eat a snack and run around, unimprisoned.

    I also wonder what parent wouldn’t opt for the school bus option, if they could.

    These two statements contradict each other. Do you know how much time is wasted sitting on a bus waiting for the bus to get from the school to your house? There aren’t bus stops anymore. The bus drops kids off door to door- and where we live, my neighbors with kids in school (we homeschool) spend more than three hours of each day on the bus- and we only live fifteen minutes from the school.

  57. Uly September 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    This is a totally stupid idea. But if they have to do it this way, why not stagger the class dismissal times so not everyone is leaving at the same time?

    No matter how carefully you try to plan it, you’re going to end up with one family that has a kid in the FIRST class to leave and also in the LAST class to leave. Or one that has a kid in every single exit time. There’s no getting around it.

    Moriah, what the heck kinda code is that???

  58. MaeMae September 2, 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    Personally, that was my favorite part of the whole post. Not only is it true but it was really funny. However, I do see your point. My eldest attended kindergarten before we decided to homeschool and we faced the same issue. An hour on the bus or a 3-minute walk? I can’t help but think that maybe this was Lenore’s point though. If you are that close and feel the need to drive them then just put them on the bus already and be done with it. This is a ridiculous policy and if I hadn’t already pulled my children out of public school, this probably would have pushed me to the edge. As a working mother, which IMO means I have 2 full-time jobs, I will NEVER spend 30 minutes waiting in a car to pick up my children from anywhere, especially from a place they could walk home from or catch a free ride on the school bus.

  59. MaeMae September 2, 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    My comment was directed at deputyheadmistress not Uly. I just didn’t type fast enough.

  60. Kate Sanfilippo September 2, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    Every time I tell a fellow parent that my child, age 5, will walk to school alone for the second half of her 1/2 mile trip,(starting Thursday), they freak out. Why?

    When I was 5, I did it. My 5 year-old is wonderful, bright, and smart enough to not get into trouble. The half of her trip I don’t plan to walk with her, by the way, is the walk across the MIDDLE SCHOOL grounds, with many teachers, buses, and students around, definitely within shouting distance.

    Today at a Chinese Restaurant for lunch with her Aunt, I let her find the restroom alone, and return alone. Our waiter saw this and hovered at the restroom door to make sure she was ok, even though I assured him she would be fine (the waiter had gone to high school with my brother, so he knew our family).

    Will a neighbor pick Aubrey up and drive her across the lot to the elementary school, just because they know I’m a bad parent? Nope. Aubrey wouldn’t take a ride without checking with me first.

    I trust my kids. I’ve raised them well. They will make mistakes, big mistakes, just like I did when I was growing up. They will do foolish and dangerous things, and survive. Just like Mommy.

  61. Veronica September 2, 2009 at 2:04 pm #

    The link some of the commenters asked for, isn’t that the link “Here you go” at the beginning of the article? I clicked on it, it’s the article….isn’t it?

  62. LindaLou September 2, 2009 at 5:03 pm #

    I wanted to clarify why my son doesn’t just walk or bike to school ~ there are no sidewalks and a trip down a huge winding hill with no shoulders to walk on. He walks and bikes all sorts of other places. He walked the 1/2 mile to and from the public library by himself today. My daughter rides her bike 3/4 of a mile to her junior high program. I would seriously love to just be able to put him on the bus, but I’m not going to lengthen his dau by making him spend two hours on the bus. My kids do swim team and karate and if he rode the bus, we wouldn;t be able to make it on time. Also, there are two days a week when I pick his sister up at band practice so she doesn’t have to ride her bike home with her instrument strapped to her back. Again, there is an “activity bus”. but she’d be on it for an hour. It’s just not worth it.

    I seriously do hate pick up time (drop off is not so bad.) I’m the mom who gets there early to be at the front of the line, otherwise, it takes forever. I don’t idle my car though. :p

  63. Mrs Embers September 2, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    I honestly thought this was a joke when I read it.

    I am SO glad we live where we do. We have one elementary school in our town, and the setup is GREAT- ONLY school buses can line up at the front of the school, so kids who are walking or biking can leave without having to navigate around lines of cars. Parents driving kids to or from school wait on the side street – certainly not inconvenient for them or their kids.

  64. singlemom September 2, 2009 at 10:04 pm #

    I live in an urban suburb right beyond the city limits of a medium sized city (the city buses drive through the neighborhood, but most of the streets don’t have sidewalks). The public schools in our district don’t allow pickup or drop off car lines or idling engines from either buses or cars. The few times I’ve had to pick up my son, I have to either park in the small lot off to the side of the school or find a spot in the neighborhood. Then, I need to walk to the school, sign my child out (no ID required), and wait in the school lobby until my child walks out of his classroom and runs over to me (no teacher checking or asking for ID). Plenty of kids walk or ride their bikes to school and we often get notes sent home about being careful to watch out for kids while driving. For the kids who ride the bus, a 3rd grader stands at the front of the line and holds a sign with the bus number so the other kids know which bus to get on to. The principal and some of the teachers stand outside and help organize the chaos in a nice way – waving good bye to the walkers/bikers and pointing the little kids to the correct bus line. Most of the comments above with similar set ups as our schools also seem to be from schools close to or within urban areas. Are small towns really so much more dangerous that they need to implement such stringent security measures??

  65. Maggie September 2, 2009 at 10:13 pm #

    Nope. They’re just full of more people who see danger in every shadow.

  66. sonya September 2, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

    Fortunately most kids in my daughter’s school do seem to get the bus. At least, I haven’t noticed a long line of cars dropping off when I’ve driven past in the morning. My daughter goes to the after school program, and then I have to park the car, walk in, and sign the book to pick her up – but I don’t mind that because it gives me a chance to chat with the staff and see what’s going on. The school has recently changed the rules for those being picked up at school at dismissal time – parents still have to park (on the street), and so if you get there late you’ll have a bit of a walk to the school, which probably helps regulate how many people do this instead of using the bus. But whereas kids leaving as “walkers” used to just be let out onto the playground where parents are waiting, now if they are just being a “walker” that one day (i.e. they usually take the bus, but they had a note to say they would be picked up at school that day) they have to be signed out individually by the parent, who has to show ID. The regular walkers still head out onto the playground, not sure if ID is required from the person picking them up. I know some regular walker kids go alone, if they live within one block. I guess the idea is that if parents have signed all the forms at the beginning of the year regarding method of going home, no id is required unless that changes. It’s not too onerous unless you’re chaperoning a large crowd of brownies on a field trip….

    Our school also has rules that kids can’t leave with someone who is not the parent unless they have signed permission from the parent in advance. However, on occasions when I forgot to send the permission, they have called me to check if it’s ok for my daughter to go home with her friend’s parents/grandparents. So at least there’s some commonsense being used there.

  67. Stacey S September 2, 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    KR Hanchey in Deridder, LA has been doing this for quite a few years. We are issued a large placard to keep in the car and the kids are kept in lines in the school and they must remain quiet and still prior to pick up.

    My son usually takes the bus home each day, but for days that I plan on picking up my child I must also write a note explaining what I plan to do. I remember that when I was a child there was a sense of self-responsibilty and the teachers never asked about how I was getting home. If I took my time after school there was always a chance of missing the bus home and having to walk the six blocks home or go in the office to call my parents.

    I think I should be able to tell my 7 year old son that he needs to not get on the bus and wait for me across the small neighborhood street so I can pick him up and not have to wait in the 30 minute parent pick up line!

  68. Virginia September 2, 2009 at 11:30 pm #

    I notice that some people here are asking why the parents don’t put the kids on the bus. The school system may not offer bus service to this school — there’s no bus to my kids’ (California) elementary school.

    In my observation, the main reason for policies like this is that teachers and administrators want to avoid unscheduled conversations with parents. Not that they’ll ever admit it, of course.

    My son’s summer camp used this placard-and-radio system, but it made sense there because (1) the camp was held in a downtown museum where almost everyone had to drive and there was minimal parking, (2) camp was held in one-week sessions, so you couldn’t expect the counselors to get to know the parents, and (3) parents weren’t actually forbidden to enter the museum to pick up their kids. Also, the line moved really fast–I never had to wait more than 10 minutes–and the kids got to hang out outside with their friends while they waited. I would be fomenting major rebellion if my kids’ school tried to pull this.

  69. Virginia September 2, 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    Oops! I just saw that the article mentions that bus service is an option. My bad.

  70. Dave September 3, 2009 at 1:15 am #

    Freakin’ nuts, this is.

    The parent who says “I’m willing to give up an hour of my time to keep my daughter safe” evidently didn’t do all that well in math: that’s ***an hour every day of the school year***. 180 hours per school year: the equivalent of a month of work.

  71. Teacher in Tejas September 3, 2009 at 1:23 am #

    I teach high school, but I just love watching the scene as I drive by the elementary school on my way home. In our safe little uppper middle class, not quite gated community seeing all of the Yukons, Escalades, Expeditions, Hummers etc. idling for over 20 minutes, burning off gas by the gallon so their little darlings don’t have to walk 200 yards home from a school that is in their neighborhood.

    Its also funny to see the ones with “Go Green” “Think Globaly” and Obama bumper stickers who are doing this, without ever catching the irony!

  72. Jeanette September 3, 2009 at 2:44 am #

    I don’t own a car. Does that mean I can’t pick up my child?

  73. Aliza G September 3, 2009 at 2:45 am #

    Or…what if you work and can’t pick your child up?

  74. Layne Aingell September 3, 2009 at 3:27 am #

    Our school used a similiar set up with the walkie-talkies but only in inclement weather. The school did this about 3 times and there were so many complaints about waiting times and traffic that the practice was discontinued. The problem was eventually solved by installing a canopy. I feel that the safety issue was actually increased by the walkie-talkie method because of the increase in waiting traffic. Not to mention the increase of tempers!

  75. Gin September 3, 2009 at 3:33 am #

    “Are small towns really so much more dangerous that they need to implement such stringent security measures??”
    “Nope. They’re just full of more people who see danger in every shadow.”
    Word. I live in a very small town, and I’m amazed at how many people are paranoid about letting their children do *anything.* One mom actually told me that she worries every time her children leave the house–which isn’t much! She won’t let them go out into their yard/garden unsupervised or walk the single block to the bus stop.
    As for the pick-up/carpooling to school… it’s really ridiculous. There’s really only one road through our town, and the school is on it. Forget about going anywhere to the south between 3 and 4 pm! The cars block all the traffic, PLUS, they often block the busses that are trying to get into the pickup area. Luckily, we live close enough that my children are able to take their bikes if the weather permits so they can bypass all of that. (Bonus: since the school has cut down Phy Ed to 2x a week, my children still get some exercise in!)

  76. Carol September 3, 2009 at 3:37 am #

    The liability issue with people not parents picking up kids has to do with custody issues. The school doesn’t want to be in the position of letting grandpa, who has a restraining order against him, picking up the kid. Just knowing the child knowing the person picking them up isn’t reason to release the child to them for a variety of reasons.

  77. Moriah Jovan September 3, 2009 at 4:01 am #


    Moriah, what the heck kinda code is that???

    and then

    But smush it all together so there are no spaces between the symbols.

  78. Moriah Jovan September 3, 2009 at 4:03 am #

    Crap. Okay, let me try this again.

    All that goes on one line, squished together (take out the space between “block” and “quote”. Quote whatever it is you’re going to quote. Then…

    And again, that’s all on one line, smushed all together with no spaces.

  79. Moriah Jovan September 3, 2009 at 4:04 am #

    Never mind. Here:

    blockquote tags

  80. Lucy September 3, 2009 at 6:04 am #

    While this school’s reaction is ridiculous, some of us pick up our kids because that is our only option. My kids’ charter school doesn’t have busing and it’s in a different city. So if I want my child home after school, someone has to pick him up. And that’s probably the case for most of the kids at the school.

    Although, if kids aren’t signed up for after-school care, you can sign a form that allows them to walk to the library where, presumably, they are on their own. I have no idea if anyone keeps track of the kids once they reach the library. I would assume not. Once my child is old enough, I would consider that as an alternative to sitting in the pickup line. We are allowed to pick up our kids (although we have to wait for them by the gym, but I’ve never seen anyone’s id checked), but since I have younger kids, it’s easier to wait in line and read a book.

    Also, I had terrible experiences on the bus as a child and would much rather take my child to school than inflict that on him, if I had the choice. Wandering the woods is one thing; having to deal with bullies and such is another.

  81. kherbert September 3, 2009 at 7:00 am #

    Lenore asked me if we were a neighborhood school …

    When it was built in 1966 yes but the old neighborhood is mostly retirees that lived there and raised their kids. Some young families have moved in. The town is becoming a bedroom community for Houston and population is exploding in the surrounding area so lines have been redrawn.

    Most of our kids come from 3 low income apartments. 2 of the apartments complexes make up most of our walkers. The 3rd is more than 2 miles away with a high traffic (including HS drivers) 4 lane road the main way there. The other large portion of our kids comes from a newish housing development. it is the other side of a 5 lane highway with a speed limit of 45 – but people generally go 60. Those kids can ride the bus also.

    We also have a larger catchment area for kids that need bilingual classrooms – basically about a 1/4 of the elementary schools in our district send their kids to us for bilingual help. Their campuses house other specialty units that might get students from us. We also have kids bussed to us for 2 Life Skills classes and an all day preschool for kids with disabilities.

    Some of our pick ups are legal transfers. There is another group we suspect are not living were they say they are. Some may have had trouble at their zoned school, others may be effectively homeless with families couch surfing.


  82. Uly September 3, 2009 at 8:17 am #

    Thanks! In exchange, the code to make angular brackets is here. Type in the code instead of the bracket and it should show up.

  83. Michele September 3, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    OMG. Tort reform, please!!!!!!!!!!! If it wasn’t for the ease of our lawsuit happy nation, perhaps this insanity wouldn’t exist.

    Our school pretty much does the exact same thing here, minus the large id badge required. A parent pulls up to the curb, whichever staff member has car rider duty is out there with a two-way radio and calls for the child via it. One by one, the children come out as the cars creep closer and closer to the front of the line. Oh, and you have to have sent in a written note with your child that day if they are going to be a car rider.

    Our school dismisses at 3:40pm and typically the line of cars begins no later than 3:10pm. To boot, many of them are moms who for whatever reason, choose to not let their child ride the bus. Most kids in our district live within 3-4 miles of the school at best and yet many, many, many parents still refuse to allow their child to ride the bus. I’m confused about parents who send them off to school for almost 8 hours alone but yet won’t let them ride a 7 minute bus ride home with their friends.

    (BTW, for those kids who do ride the bus, they have to go the gym at the end of the day and wait quietly in their appropriate bus line until their bus number is called and then single file out to it).

    I really feel for the staff members who are strapped with this duty each day. I really feel for the children too.

  84. julie September 3, 2009 at 10:41 am #

    “At the beginning of the year, parents p/u a big, brightly colored form (as many as they want, and color changes each year), write the child’s name big as life, prop it on the dash – as you move through the line, the teacher alongside the line farther down uses a walkie talkie to call out the name to the teacher at the door. Teacher at the door calls the kid. By the time you get to the door, your kid is there waiting. No ID checking at all and the line zips along. Car line in the front, buses on one side of the building, walkers/bikers exit the school from the other side of the building. ”

    This is exactly the system at our DD’s school starting next week except each grade/room has it’s own color sign so a blue sign means it’s her classroom, and her name is clearly boldly printed across it to make radioing in easier. It’s a Montessori school and our desire for her to learn in a way that empowered her to direct her own learning, be free to go out and work in the class garden and take responsibility for cooking, cleaning, and maintaining her work space and to go on class trips into the mountains in 3rd grade and such were enough to outweigh the lack of bus service. I’d guess 90% of parents live 5+ miles from school, but they do allow walkers.

    HOWEVER, the ID’s and such are crazy. We don’t have to ID, we just need the name card to facilitate the process and the teachers generally know us by face. For safety from specific relationship issues, I agree it should be case-by-case for students with special considerations. We filled out a form already saying who we expect to pick her up but we can also call in any special changes if for some reason we needed to and, again, they don’t ID. And rather than the long list of “yes” you could also just specify “definitely NOT” people. People with a “NO” issue probably DO have ID req’d, but I don’t know.

    Why we have it? Partially to prevent kids getting hit in a more chaotic system. Partially that there’s NOTHING chlid-friendly nearby (library, etc); just a drug store, bank, gas station, and residential neighborhoods so if you don’t live close enough to walk home there’s not a good option for “walk to the library and I’ll pick you up there.” And mostly because we live somewhere that sees 14 feet of snow per winter and is pretty much freezing from mid-Oct to mid-April. I’m grateful my kid can stay inside until I’m close to the door and only 2-3 teachers/volunteers have to stand outside and let the kids know their parents are here. I gather that doesn’t apply in this case as Florida is pretty pleasant most of the school year. (Not that my precious baby can’t be exposed to cold air, but (a) bulky coats really reduce the effectiveness of car seat straps and (b) it’s warm in the car and a bulky coat would overheat her quickly and she’d puke…so it means a lighter coat which saves the process of taking her coat off before she straps into the warm carseat)

    Whole thing takes 15 mins per grade level (3 intervals: pre-k/k; 1-3; 4-6) but for families with multiple kids the kids all leave with and drop off with the earliest arrival and earliest departure group that applies. The process isn’t insane but the ID checks and reasonings are over the top.

  85. Shannon September 3, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    The bus drops kids off door to door

    This is insane. I’m 27. My Michigan public school did this for kindergartners, but after that, it was the bus stop for everyone. Individual stops are not the point of a bus: the whole idea is that you depart and arrive at general points.

    And what’s this business about bus drivers checking everyone in? *crotchety grandpa Simpson voice* In my day, you knew your bus number and if you failed to catch your bus, you waited for the late one or called your parents. I wonder how much of the delay in buses getting away from the school have to do with the Lincoln Navigator mommies and their tendency to dominate parking lots.

    And @ Michele, boy, are you ever right about tort reform. I’m a graduate student at Berkeley and read recently about a classmate of mine’s five-year-old son, who was killed by a truck walking from his kindergarten to his afterschool program. He had his parents’ permission to do this and had done it before, but some bad confluence events occurred at exactly the wrong moment and the boy, despite supervision from an afterschool employee, made a dash for it after he got off the bus and was fatally hit. A tragedy, right? Absolutely. But the parents are turning their grief into a lawsuit that names the truck driver (no alcohol, drugs, or traffic violations were involved–the driver wasn’t even cited), his company, the school district, the school bus driver who had let the child off at the stop from which he was to walk the remaining distance to the afterschool program, the afterschool program, the afterschool program employee who was escorting the kids from the bus stop to the program, and the Regents of the University of California, who ran the afterschool program. Nobody in the world was at fault for this but the child himself (and maybe his parents for not teaching him to look both ways), but we refuse to accept individual responsibility for anything, or “tragedy” as a concept. Bad stuff happens. We need to realize that and stop trying to affix a price tag to every terrible thing. I’m sure everyone named in this ridiculous lawsuit will pay out because the risk of going before a jury is too great.

  86. Moriah Jovan September 3, 2009 at 10:50 am #


    Thank you so much!

  87. Bert September 3, 2009 at 1:10 pm #

    I just had a pickup outrage last week. My child stays for the after school program (ASP), and this was my first time picking him up from it (he just started kindergarten, and I’m noncustodial). Anyway I get there a little before 6, and literally walk ALL AROUND the school looking for an unlocked door. All these doors have signs that say WELCOME, mind you, but underneath that misleading headline are all sorts of rules about signing in at the office, etc. On locked doors with criminality-presuming edicts, a disingenuous WELCOME insults and annoys me.

    So I finally spy some kids in the gym after crossing the playground behind the school. This little girl sees me, waves, but declines to open the door. My son sees me shortly thereafter, yells DADDY!, and runs to come open the door for me. So of course a teacher stops him and gives him a stern talking to for having the audacity to do what comes naturally – and is, in point of fact, the situationally correct thing to do. Seeing him crestfallen at having disappointed an authority figure and knowing how unnecessary it is for him to be made to feel that way (while I’m outside unable to do anything about it, mind you) was kind of the last straw.

    At this point, the teacher opens the door, I ask why my son wasn’t allowed to open it himself, she says none of the kids are, that they’re so sweet and innocent they’d open it for anybody (a: not true, as just demonstrated; b: sweet innocence is not something to be lectured out of people in favor of irrational fear of their own parents). I press her on the issue, she keeps telling me it’s “for their safety”, which is both insulting to the intelligence of anyone who has any and, again, presumes that I am someone from whom my own child needs to be kept safe.

    I’m asked for ID, which I happen not to have. Teacher huffs and puffs, “explains”
    that this is needed to make sure I am who I say I am (A positive ID from my son isn’t enough? I ask. “Well, sometimes people are in custody disputes or a grandparent will kidnap them or something.” And my ID confirming that I am who we all know I am proves that I’m not going to kidnap my son how?)

    At some point I remark that this school is just like a prison, my son asks me why, and I reply that it’s a very good question. I was informed that I just didn’t appreciate their police-state tactics because I hadn’t ever experienced what they had (indicating that their elaborate security measures are not actually effective at preventing incidents). Now I’m due for a lecture from this self-same teacher (luckily to be delivered in letter form, the better to lambaste it thoroughly), having already gotten one from my ex-wife. In which she hammered home the points that a) kids should learn to be happy with what they have; b) these people are taking good care of our kid and so I shouldn’t cross them lest they stop; c) children shouldn’t be involved in “adult” conversations (i.e., conversations about the child in question); d) I’m to toe the party line when discussing compulsory schooling, lest he understand and agree that being forced to be somewhere from 7:45 am to 6:30 pm every day, mostly inside but not even remotely out in nature even when outside, isn’t fair; e) kids need a healthy [sic] fear of strangers; f) it’s not like kids could just walk home; etc. Where to even begin??

    When is it, exactly, that kids are supposed to find the time to BE KIDS? When is it that they are supposed to have the real life experiences that constitute growing up? I mean, if the world is such a scary place, they could at least be teaching the kids karate and giving them rape whistles or SOMEthing. That would at least empower them to feel like they could meet these imaginary dangers head on. But teaching them to rely on draconian state-mandated security measures? What does THAT accomplish? I kind of wish I didn’t already know the answer to that…

  88. Uly September 3, 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    The liability issue with people not parents picking up kids has to do with custody issues. The school doesn’t want to be in the position of letting grandpa, who has a restraining order against him, picking up the kid. Just knowing the child knowing the person picking them up isn’t reason to release the child to them for a variety of reasons.

    But they’re not worried about the liability if one of those cars has a fatal accident, or if somebody sues because their kid had an asthma attack brought on by so much exhaust?

  89. Kim September 4, 2009 at 3:17 am #

    I have to admit that my daughter’s elementary school does something similar and has for the past 5 years. I don’t claim to know what their reasons were when they started it, but I can say that at her school it speeds up pick up. Kids ARE allowed to walk home from her school too. The system our school has is that every parent that picks their kids up gets a car tag with a number on it. When a car pulls up a teacher radios the number inside, the kid recognizes their number (and they have a tag on the kids’ backpacks) and off they go to the car. I always considered it a matter of efficiency and nothing more.

    My son’s middle school does NOT use any type of pick up method. Parents pull up in front of the cafeteria, which has a wall of windows, and the kids are supposed to watch and go out when they see the person that is supposed to pick them up. Not real efficient and it takes twice as long to pick up your child. Plus if you have a vehicle issue and show up in a different car it takes longer for your child to realize it’s you. His school also allows walkers.

    One other note is that the elementary school tags all kids, bus-riders, car riders, walkers & kids involved in the after school care program. This is to help make sure they get where there are supposed to since there are so many kids. Of course even using this method my daughter wrongly put on a bus on her first day of kindergarten! Nothing like showing up at school and your child isn’t there. I had never thought of it in this light, only that it sped up our pick ups. Interesting.

    LOVE the site, btw!

  90. Louisa September 4, 2009 at 6:13 am #

    OK, this is crazy. In my school district in the UK, once you reach eleven and high school, that is the age when generally you get to school on your own. If you live less than three miles away you walk, cycle, or get a lift, or if you live more than that there is a free bus service, but you go to a bus stop up to 2 miles from your house. Most people who get lifts only do so in the morning or when it’s tipping it down with rain, or when whoever’s doing the lift is in the area anyway. Some people do get lifts to their buses, but again that’s a time issue.
    The only time we have a car line is after school events finishing after dark, or after normal time with many people (there is no late bus for the bus girls), when everyone just stands outside reception, which is on the school drive, till their car gets to that point on the drive, and then hops in. Cars generally don’t have to stop for too long, and after big events like Open Evenings, there are staggered pick up times.
    When signing myself out for a dentist appointment, I just show the receptionist a signed note from my mum saying I’ll have to be out of school for a couple of hours, and then I just go and get in the car.

  91. K September 4, 2009 at 11:35 pm #

    I just blogged about a similar (but less extreme) policy.

    It makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

  92. Kari September 5, 2009 at 12:43 am #

    To everyone who told me where to find the link–it wasn’t there originally. Honest.

  93. GregS September 11, 2009 at 11:40 pm #

    Amazing. When I was a kid, in the 60s and 70s, Americans took pride in being a practical, commonsensical people; a people that despised bureaucracy and admired the sort of person who put reality above rules. Now, it seems like abandoning all commonsense and rationality in favor of obedience to authority figures and arbitrary, irrational rules is the American ideal.

  94. Anna September 16, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

    I can’t believe it this is the old principal’s plan. There are actually other insane people that think this is reasonable. My daughter now goes to a suburban school, because she is too old for the neighborhood school with the sane principal that allows walking and biking.

    I can’t stand the car line! I refuse to participate. If they stop allowing me park and walk. I am out of there! I will home school I swear.

    A kid’s foot got run over on these stupid car lines. THe kids are inhaling the exhaust having asthma attacks. GET OUT OF THE CAR PEOPLE! You are fat, take a walk.

  95. kherbert September 16, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

    Those of you saying you want to park and walk in. Is there enough parking? Once all our staff is parked there are maybe 5 – 10 places left. Also we are on a very old, narrow street with almost no shoulder. When people park on the street it can reduce the traffic to 1 lane.

    So we have the cards that sit in windshield system – because it reduces the time cars idle. (I’ve described it up stream but our system lets us load 4 cars at time, and the child is standing on their star waiting for the car, when they get there.) In our case the system is totally about being efficient.

    Since new principal initiated the system – it has cut porch duty in 1/2 for the teachers. It used to be that they took more time loading those kids than bus duty did – and we have 2 buses that deliver a bus load of kids, turn around, come back to school and pick up another full busload of kids. (After the 1st group of kids are gone – the coaches and aids play games with the 2nd set or help them with their homework)

  96. Ben September 17, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

    What’s up with the abduction fear? They could simply teach the kids not to leave with someone they don’t know and cut the whole ID card business.

  97. Anna September 18, 2009 at 12:50 am #

    IF the kid is past 3 years old, he/she should know who can pick them up. Don’t the kids have any responsiblity anymore? If there is some kid of custody dispute in one kid’s case, then that should be the kid whose parents need id.

    If my school starts this, I swear I will homeschool. I am not putting up with this stupidity.

  98. Alex June 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    The only kids at my school who are picked up at the door are the kindergarteners. The only proof of pick-up they need is a note if it’s not the parent picking their children up. To prevent non-custodial parent abduction? We simply have a folder filled with the names and pictures of kids who can only be picked up by a certain parent, and the classroom teacher and bus duty para-educators keep an extra close eye on them.

  99. Bonnie Cunard January 14, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    I am one of those teachers who donates their time working the parent pick up line, off contract, to assure that each and every child gets home safely. 99% of parents are thankful that we are taking precautions. 1% complains… if that…

    I am also a parent… if school personnel loaded my child into a car without checking ID… I would be furious… it just takes one mistake…

    Thank God for teachers and staff who care for each student as much as they would their own child.

  100. Bonnie Cunard January 14, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    as far as unlocked doors for the one commenter… it is called state law… if someone wants to come into the building, they are welcome… but first they will be identified… via computer. License is scanned…. sexual predators are turned away…

    Amazing that someone would complain that schools keep kids safe…. I have worked at a school, before these laws, wherein doors where unlocked… an intruder walked right in and… well, it wasn’t good…

    safety… safety…

  101. conta March 3, 2011 at 4:14 am #

    almanya daki bir firmanin Turkiye deki bayiisi olarak sayfamizi hazirliyoruz bizde sizin tasarim cok hos


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