Outrage of the Week: Older Siblings Banned from Middle School Pick-Up

Hi efibskhyka
Readers! Oh great — more unmitigated fear, and unintended consequences. L.


Dear Free-Range Kids: I recently received an email from my daughter’s middle school that included this gem:
High school students are not allowed on C. Middle School property. They are trespassing and will be charged by the police. Please do not send your high school student on CMS property to “pick up” a younger brother or sister. They will be charged with trespassing.
I am frankly horrified.  This school is both a magnet school (drawing students from the entire county) and a receiving school for students who have transferred from schools that have been labeled as “failing.”  Many students travel long distances without access to buses.  Many parents must rely on older siblings to help with transportation.  The same principal who has threatened to have the high school students arrested ends nearly every email with the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  I don’t know what village she lives in, but my village includes a lot of helpful high school students who get their younger siblings to and from school. — Frustrated Mom

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97 Responses to Outrage of the Week: Older Siblings Banned from Middle School Pick-Up

  1. Kacey March 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    I picked up my brother & his stinky carpool mates regularly when I was in high school. This principal needs to be challenged on this, he’s got fiefdom syndrome.

  2. kcs March 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    This is silly. At my younger child’s elementary school we can fill out a form saying who, besides the parents, are allowed to pick up our kid–older siblings can be on the list(though with a caution that this is not the optimal choice). If the middle school is concerned about random high schoolers roaming the campus, the principle could simply institute a similar practice.

  3. Cam March 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    This is insane. I understand policies like this to a certain extent, maybe in areas where there are a lot of gang problems and things like that. But it would be easy enough to institute some kind of permission slip requirement.

  4. SKL March 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    Oh my gosh!! I remember when I was 17 and went to fetch my 3rd grade brother, who’d been kept after school to clean his locker. (He normally walked home alone / with friends.) He’d been having some trouble keeping up with schoolwork, and I, being an education student, wanted to engage his teacher in a discussion about how we could help him. “I only talk to moms and dads,” was her reply. I was terribly offended.

    Now I would have been arrested for merely picking him up at the door.

    Oh my.

  5. Erica March 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    I really hope these over reaching type posts are more of the exception than the standard because they really make me twitch.

  6. Adriana March 30, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    Could they actually enforce that? What if you have the middle-schooler meet the high-schooler somewhere around the school?As long as the high schooler isn’t actually on school grounds (the sidewalk around the school isn’t school grounds) I don’t think there’s anything they can do about it.

  7. ShortWoman March 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Huh. I have a sneaky suspicion who “CMS” is. If so, yes it’s a magnet school, but no the magnet kids all get on the bus at the end of the day. The school it feeds into is also a magnet school — a nationally ranked high school — but the “local population” has so much poverty that one year, the USDA threw their hands up and gave free lunch to every kid at CMS. They’re trying to keep the *local* high schoolers away.

    Normally the Principal is sensible. Approach the counselors with the Voice of Reason.

  8. enyawface March 30, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Most schools no longer allow children to leave school grounds, unless they are walkers. I expect soon, that they will begin to no longer allow children to walk to and from school. I wish they would force the people who make all these rules and laws to spend a day with 20 somethings and see how incompetent their “safety” is making the future adults of our world.

  9. Robin from Israel March 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Count me among the horrified.

    When our local school suddenly closed to grades 1-3 (and will close entirely next year) the school my 1st grader was sent to instead actually granted the kids from this other school an extra hour of supervised time after school – precisely to allow the older siblings from the first school time to walk over and pick them up!

    The world really does seem to have gone more than a little mad, especially in the US. This scares me more than a little.

    My photography is available for purchase – visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

  10. Crystal March 30, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    This is so absolutely stupid I have no words.

  11. North of 49 March 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    This is when I would contact the school board about how the principal is doublespeaking. If it takes a village, then the older kids should be able to pick up their younger siblings.

  12. Crystal March 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    No wait, I do have words.

    I’d send my high school student to pick up my middle schooler, let them get arrested and turn into a lawsuit and a huge mediastorm.

  13. Elizabeth March 30, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    “This is silly. At my younger child’s elementary school we can fill out a form saying who, besides the parents, are allowed to pick up our kid–older siblings can be on the list(though with a caution that this is not the optimal choice). If the middle school is concerned about random high schoolers roaming the campus, the principle could simply institute a similar practice.”

    No kidding. The solution is absurd. I understand how frustrating it must be for school administrators whose hands are tied regarding discipline–well, no, I don’t, but I try. This is ridiculous, though.

  14. Catherine March 30, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Yep. That’s done it. I am finally completely speechless.

    Could say tho don’t you love the way cute vulnerable little kids become horrible scary teenagers in the blink of an eye.

  15. Emily March 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Well, this is just stupid. I would make an appointment to speak to the principal about her policy, but if she didn’t see reason, I would then go to the school board.

  16. Scott March 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    I don’t think you guys are nearly mad enough.

    The mere possibility that older siblings can be arrested for helping this way is so utterly outrageous and offensive, and so indicative of a psychotic police state mentality, that an appropriate response would be considering starting an armed revolution to regain our freedom and restore sanity to a world clearly ruled by mentally ill tyrants.

  17. Lisa March 30, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    What a stupid policy. Maybe the principal is the village idiot.

    I hope Frustrated Mom fights this at a school board meeting. I think she’d have support.

  18. Henry Crun March 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    The village from whence the principal hails is certainly missinig its idiot!!

  19. Silver Fang March 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    She needs to circulate a petition to get that principal canned.

  20. Sean March 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    So i guess older siblings….oh never mind. That is quite bizarre. But wait, so siblings who dropped out of high school COULD pick up younger siblings? Just askin….

  21. Mel March 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    While it seems that it is a “baby with the bathwather” policy, and I HATE it. I have to say that I do understand it. Unfortunately, high schoolers have been known to cause many problems at the elementary/middle schools during bus changes, etc. around here.

    Guess what would happen if some high schooler beat up a kid on that campus? Yep, the outcry would be that people couldn’t believe that adminstrators allowed those high schoolers on campus. Some parent would sue the school system.

    As ridiculous as many school policies are, I am learning that many of them are simply to protect the school system from overzealous-lawsuit-crazy parents. My dad is in adminstration and the stuff he sees and has to deal with is CRAZY. And most people have no idea what these administrators have to deal with. Silly lawsuits against the school systems waste much time and money. Most schools have to adopt such crazy policies just to protect themselves.

  22. BobB March 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    A bit off immediate topic but relevant. My two sons are six years apart. The younger was a cub scout and they were planning a week long campout in the northwoods. The older son had been there many times so we thought it would be good to send the two of them. At the first planning meeting the adults who had never been there started talking about food plans. They metioned they would be bringing large coolers and all would share at the campsite. My 17 tear old stepped in and said “No you will not. That will attract bears.” Sometimes a high school kid is the best one for the job.

    PS: I don’t think the adults slept well, and yes there really are bears there.

  23. CherubMamma March 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    @Henry – AWESOME!!!!

    We are sending a horrible message to all teens with rules like this. If we keep telling them they can’t be trusted – they will live up to that potential.

  24. Andy March 30, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    The madness of the situation aside, I do have a problem with how it’s presented here: Why do these posts always appear here with absolutely no indication of where they are from. I assume we are supposed to call, write or email those in charge to let them know that their actions are harmful, but we never get that chance since locations are regularly omitted. What gives?

  25. Andy March 30, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    As a follow-up thought — after a while these “unlocated” stories begin to sound like urban legends. Don’t let that happen. Cite, cite, cite!

  26. Sara March 30, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    I don’t have a problem with it if there are specific reasons for the ban. So if there have been problems with kids causing trouble or preying on the girls I’ve got no problem with it AND it’s not like these middle schoolers aren’t able to walk home on their own or meet their siblings two blocks away.

  27. Myriam March 30, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    I’m afraid Mel is probably right. I’m sure a lot of this stuff is driven by parents. Going by the newsletters I receive from school, which start “we have a number of complaints from concerned parents..” for every parent, like me, writing to complain about a traffic safety officer telling the children to: “go home and tell your parents they’re being irresponible if they let you walk to school alone if you’re under 11”, there are 10 other parents complaining about children being allowed to run across the road unsupervised from their parents’ car into the school (we’re talking 8 years and over here) – not walk to school mind you, but simply cross the road having been driven to school.

    The question is, why can’t head teachers stand up to such parents?

  28. kopuff March 30, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    At first, I read this as “picking up in a car.” But then I realized it was just dropping by, supposedly to walk the middle schooler home. I’m pretty sure it’s not legal to forbid people in cars from coming by and picking up a student.

    So, I get it. It’s probably an outgrowth of high schoolers coming into the school, saying they’re “picking up” their sibling and just causing trouble. I think the poster made a big deal out of nothing.

  29. Mike Stead March 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    “It takes a village…”

    At least it’s now confirmed that this particular one has an idiot.

  30. Lafe March 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    These types of foolish decisions are made every day, when one or two parents complain that they are “uncomfortable” about something (like too many high-schoolers “hanging around” their precious, vulnerable child’s middle school), some administrator thinks, “I’ll solve this quickly with a new rule!” and when the note comes home no one complains against the new rule.

    This chain can be broken. When this happens, that administrator should receive hundreds of emails from parents with and without HS kids picking up other kids, saying it’s a stupid rule. There should be hundreds of phone calls to the school office asking if it’s right to treat helpful citizens, many of them educated at that very school, like criminals deserving arrest. There should be a dozen letters in the newspaper within a few days.

    This is how we drown out the voices of the wrong-headed ones. This is how we shame the administrators and get them to (hopefully) think a WHOLE lot harder about the next decision, and the next.

    In these times, we are more able than ever to quickly organize and react to nonsense like this. Set up an email list of “sane” parents, or a Facebook group, and when a unified response is needed, send out a call for action.

    With such tools in place, you could even organize a day on which nearly everyone has a high-schooler pick up their kid, even those without kids in both HS and MS. If 50 or 100 high-schoolers appeared on the same day with signed permission slips, would they all be arrested?

    We need to start being more active and resourceful than the busybody worriers.

  31. RobynHeud March 30, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    As a middle schooler I used to walk to the high school to get picked up with my older siblings. Maybe they should institute a blanket policy at all of the schools that if you don’t have a valid ID/reason to be there, you’re automatically arrested, because heaven knows, no one wants to be around kids unless they’re child molesters or up to something else equally sneaky. Of course, if they had pulled that junk while I was in school, my mom and dad would have done nothing short of getting the enactors of such stupid rules fired.
    I agree with Scott; it’s time for a revolution. They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so let’s start being the squeaky wheels instead of the parents who don’t want to rock the boat. Let’s make it so people who bring frivolous lawsuits against our school systems (costing them valuable time and resources) get shut down early and have to pay for the money they’re costing our children. Let’s make it so these kind of policies are outraged against, not taken in stride as “a way to protect the schools and our children”. The school systems are a privilege for every child in the US and should be run by the people, not people pleasing schmucks who threw away their common sense when they got on the school board. Down with insanity! Down with fear-mongering! And down with the crazy few who are ruining it for the rest of us!

  32. Celina March 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    Seriously? That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard of. I can understand the mentality that if you are not attending that school, and have no official business there, then stay off the property – but to ban older siblings from picking up younger children? I have 3 girls, one just started grade 9 (age 14), and my younger 2 are in Senior Kindergarten (age 5) and grade 4 (age 9). We live beside the elementary school, and across from the high school. Normally my teen would pick up the SK, as they are not allowed to leave the property without being signed out, but she recently got a job (babysitting a 2 & 4 year old! Gasp!) and can not go and get her youngest sister each day. Now my grade four is responsible for picking up where the oldest one left off, and on such days (it isn’t every day) is responsible for bringing home her little sister. She has been given a key, knows the rules in the house and they are kept busy with a couple of simple chores while they wait the 1/2 to 1 hour for me to get home from work. The funny thing is, except for being home for by herself for a little while, my 5 year old would be more than capable of walking home by herself. Like I said, we are right beside the school.
    Oh, and something else that would surely get me in trouble in certain parts of the world – we just celebrated ‘Earth Day’ which also happened to be my birthday, so hubby took me out to dinner while the eldest watched the younger 2. Earth Hour – is from 8:30 – 9:30 and involves turning off all lights and as many sources of power as possible. I came home to a house full of carefully placed, lit candles. Horrifying I know, right?

  33. Kimberly March 30, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    I can see banning people that have cause a problem, but I don’t think the principal has a leg to stand on banning an entire class of people.

    Half the Middle School, JH, and HS walk across our campus going to and from school. There have a been a couple of older siblings banned from campus/picking up kids – but that was because of that person’s behavior. (Example showing up high as a kite and being abusive toward the younger student/staff. The same behavior would get any adult banned).

    A few years ago, we had a family lose the Mom to cancer. The little one was afraid to stay home after school by herself (she would become afraid her family had disappeared she was 6 and was getting grief counciling) We made arrangements for her to stay with the office staff, until older brother got out of middle school. He picked her up on the way home.

    I also just found out that parents of walkers/latch key bus riders have the OPTION of giving a back up key to the office staff. They are kept in a lock box in the safe.. If a student loses the key, they can get the back up from the office. Many of our parents work a 1hour to 1.5 hours away from our town. This gives them peace of mind. I found out only because a student had a problem with his key and came to get the back up. A staff member walked back with him and found the lock had been damaged – so they went to the apartment offices to have it fixed.

  34. Teri March 30, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    I don’t know why we don’t go to neighborhood K-12 schools with a max of 500 kids in each one. Granted, I know it’s cheaper to outfit one high school science lab, build one football field, and one gymnasium, and one mega auditorium than it is to outfit each school with the same, but this whole changing of schools every 4 years has never made sense to me. I went to a K-12 school and the elementary (K-6) was in a separate building from high school (7-12) – no junior high. As a 7th grader, I took elective classes and PE with seniors. I also spent my study hall down in the elementary building tutoring 1st graders. There were always high school vs. elementary contests at pep rallies or fundraisers – naturally, the little kids always won – the older kids made sure of it. The little kids were not tormented by the older kids as most would think, but we looked at them as our own and were fiercely protective of them. There is a sense of community with K-12 schools and the older kids do seem to take on a sense of pride and responsibility when there are younger kids around who look up to them. Maybe this is why the mega high school system simply doesn’t work. It’s all competition between the classes or teams and nobody looks up to anybody and nobody has any pride or responsibility outside of their own little clique. I truly think this is one reason private schools turn out better kids than most public schools. You act out in a school with 1500 kids in it and you are just a face in the crowd (I’m sure I’ll get flamed over this statement). You act out in a smaller K-12 school and the whole school knows about it as do all the parents. There goes your babysitting job.

  35. Nicola March 30, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    If you don’t challenge the principal, this will not change. If you never speak up, no one will know there’s an issue to speak up about, nor know that others feel the same. I’d be getting petitions signed with the quickness on this one.

  36. Jules March 31, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    When I was in high school, I worked as a babysitter (more of a nanny), to three children while their parents’ shifts overlapped. I would get to their house after I got out of school, get them off the bus, help them with homework, get them ready for dinner, sometimes drive them places. What if these kids needed to be picked up from school? I was their caregiver for 4 hours every day. Would their parents have had to find someone else to take care of their kids?

  37. EricS March 31, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    What an idiot. He probably just doesn’t like high school kids, because he was an insecure sheltered boy that was picked on in high school. And that paranoia he learned to grow up with stayed with him to this very day. That’s like giving a paranoid a gun and blindfolding him, then putting him in middle of a noisy crowd. Don’t they do some mental evaluation for teachers and other school positions?

  38. pentamom March 31, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    This is complete garbage.

  39. JenJen March 31, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    If the rule applies to HS students picking up MS students in a car, then it’s too restrictive and should be challenged. If it only applies to ‘walkers’ then it should be worded that a MS student is capable of walking themselves home. I can see how HS students milling around the MS in dicey neighborhoods could be problematic. The MS student could meet their older sibling down the block if it really is a good idea to stick together for the walk home. Oh but then who ever is waiting would get in trouble for loitering. Crap….can’t win.

  40. Ricki March 31, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    Teri – I completely agree with you. I think we should at the very least go back to a K-8, then 9-12 system. My kid will go to a K-2, a 3-4, a 5-8, and then high school. Why? The only answer I’ve heard is, “There’s too many kids for a K-8,” but there’s no reason to divide along age, rather than geographical, lines.

  41. Nicole March 31, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    Huh. When I was in high school I had to walk to the middle school, wait for the bus, and then was dropped back off at the middle school after school was out. So telling us to not go near the middle school wouldn’t have worked!

    I’m not sure that I buy that busing isn’t arranged, though. Usually there are laws regarding how far a kid can walk without busing.

  42. Kara March 31, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    I am starting to think that no one is responsible enough to take care of children in the eyes of the authorities.

  43. Heather March 31, 2011 at 1:33 am #

    I work in middle school administration and can see both sides here. If this school is having a problem with ‘certain’ high school students, he/she should deal directly with them (ban them, inform the high school so they can give consequences, call the cops, etc.). It is ridiculous to say that NO high school students can come pick up their younger siblings as I’m sure that the majority of them cause no trouble.

    That said, Mel is right…the lawsuits and liability issues are causing tremendous issues for schools. Take a step back and look at the bigger, overarching issue behind most of these lawsuits and here’s what you’ll see: a culture and legal system that supports the notion that a) children cannot be held responsible for their actions (find an excuse, any excuse: ADD, immaturity, laziness, wants to sleep in disorder, etc.) and b) somehow the responsibilty falls completely on the school (not the parents or students).

  44. View Point March 31, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    What is the name of this school?

    And where is it?

  45. Jane Howard March 31, 2011 at 3:14 am #

    CMS…could that be Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in NC? Not surprising. Typical idiocy. They don’t have enough money to keep schools open, yet they’re trying to figure out ways to ensure middle schoolers can still have inter-scholastic sports. Instead of giving high school kids transit bus passes (half of them ride the city bus anyway) they have a gazillion buses driving around with just a few students in them. When there are school events, parents can’t send home-made baked goods; they have to come from yucky grocery store bakeries. I could go on…

    In any case, you have all the carpool moms who block the driveway and even the city streets waiting to pick up their kids. As long as the picker-upper is not roaming the campus I don’t understand why a high schooler can’t be in that same lane if he/she is driving or stand on the sidewalk and wait for the sibling he or she would probably rather not pick up anyway, LOL.

  46. Devil May Care March 31, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    You should thank him for offering to escort your child to the edge of school grounds so that their sibling can pick them up.

  47. Marie March 31, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    I have to agree with those who say ban the troublemakers. It makes no sense to threaten helpful siblings with arrest simply for doing what family ought to do.

  48. Gillian March 31, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    This seems just silly. What is the justification? What do they think is going to happen having an older sibling pick up a younger one? My older brother used to pick me up all time.

  49. Cindy March 31, 2011 at 4:30 am #

    For many schools, this really is a silly regulation. However, in many communities (particularly low-income communities) there is a significant gang problem and justifiably good reasons to keep older kids off the campus. Just because they are someone’s sibling does not mean they are also not recruiting for gangs. It happens more than you think.

    Middle school is a prime gang recruitment venue, although in many areas that may not be a problem. Before we jump to conclusions (and in the absence of more information about the school/area), it might be good to consider that in some cases older siblings may not have the same intentions we did when we fetched our little brothers and sisters from school. Times have changed.

  50. Suzanne March 31, 2011 at 4:33 am #

    @ Devil May Care, right on! Seriously, this blanket ban on HS kids picking up MS siblings needs to be challenged. It’s wrong on so many levels.

    My son is in second grade, will be 8 in June and he walks 4 blocks to school every morning with 2 buddies (one in 2nd grade, one in 3rd grade). I’ve taken alot of flack for letting him do this, but the results have been great. He’s arrived safely and on time every day, it saves me 15 minutes on my way to work (so I can leave 15 minutes earlier) and he’s a happy, self-reliant kid who is extremely proud of himself.

  51. Emily March 31, 2011 at 4:35 am #

    I’m sorry this is entirely off the subject, but I wondered if you’d seen this toy:

    I can’t remember whether you’ve blogged about this or not, as it has been around for a little while, but I was curious what your thoughts might be. I have nothing against little girls (or little boys) pretending to breastfeed their dolls, indeed I think it’s a fine thing, but I was shocked that anyone would pay $99 for that specific doll and apron. I also don’t like the string of angry comments at the end of the article, mostly on the theme of ‘let kids be kids, this’ll lead to teen pregnancy,’ as if mimicking one adult activity automatically leads to mimicking an entirely different one.

  52. pentamom March 31, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    Cindy, that’s a reasonable point, but the problem is, in a world with ever more two-earner families and more single parents, cutting off the ability of older siblings to help out younger ones in this way is just insane. It’s like the schools are trying to cut off every option some families have for dealing with life, and then complain when kids aren’t being properly looked after.

    The fact that there might in fact be older kids up to no good in these situations should not be discounted, but banning older siblings from meeting younger ones after is may possibly be the worst way anyone could have come up with to deal with it, if they’d tried. It’s like people with real lives to manage don’t count, only the needs of the school system.

  53. Laura March 31, 2011 at 4:43 am #

    My kids were in public school last year with a magnet middle school across the street. There was a HUGE problem with the middle school kids coming to the elem school and causing problems, using language that isn’t appropriate on an ELEM. school grounds. They were behaving inappropriately for their location. I think I should be able to take my kids across their school yard without them picking up a new vocabulary and knowledge of making out. So we called our school’s security a number of times after talking to the kids ourselves didn’t work and finally the issue was taken up at THEIR school (also a public school) and they were all given strict lessons on appropriate behavior and no further REAL problems were noticed. Banning them would have been stupid and not solved the problem.

    It would make sense if, as mentioned above, gang recruitment is a problem, to have more responsible adults out there. Our public schools have police officers as security guards to deal with some of these issues…even from a “presence is deterrence” standpoint. Deal with individual problem kids. Talk to the parents of problem kids, have the kids arrested if they are engaging in illegal activity. But if Sandy needs to walk Franklin home from school, she should be able to do so.

    (I will say that we removed our kids from the public schools because of blanket policies that were inconsistent with logic…so although we didn’t have the above issue, there were a number.)

  54. Decemberbaby March 31, 2011 at 4:54 am #

    I’m still trying to get past the point that we’re talking about middle school students getting picked up. While I agree that banning high school students is too broad a solution to whatever problem there is, the fact remains that middle school students are, by and large, old enough to get themselves home, or at least off school property.

  55. Emiky March 31, 2011 at 4:58 am #

    While no school likes kids of another school hanging around, as a teacher we relied on older siblings to get kids. What incident happened that made this rule? Or was it parent request en masse? Some parents feared the helpful older children of other parents? I wonder what will become of the school’s enrollment numbers with the ability to transport kids now gone?

  56. pentamom March 31, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    “While I agree that banning high school students is too broad a solution to whatever problem there is, the fact remains that middle school students are, by and large, old enough to get themselves home, or at least off school property.”‘

    They can’t drive. Perhaps there is a reason that it works better for the family for them to be driven somewhere, maybe home, maybe not, after school, rather than taking the bus home. And the sibling is in a better position to do it. Or maybe it IS the kind of neighborhood where no kid should be walking alone, even at that age. That most of the world is safe for Free-Rangers should not be confused with the fact that some parts of the world are fairly unsafe for anyone.

    Beyond that, granted that middle school kids can generally “get themselves home,” there always have been and always will be valid reasons to pick kids up after school, at least occasionally.

    So I think you need to “get past that” because if there is even one valid reason for a middle school kid to be picked up by someone, ever, then it’s fair to talk about a policy that interferes with that, and legitimate to be outraged over it.

  57. Emiky March 31, 2011 at 5:14 am #

    I don’t know about the area, but if it’s a magnet school most kids would not be able to just walk home.

    Emily, I looked up that doll. I think it’s a neat concept! Girls have always played that way. My only issue is the price. That’s a pricey doll.

  58. Jenn March 31, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    I’m just wondering how old students in Middle School would be. In my area, middle schools (if they haven’t been amalgamated yet) are for students aged 11-13, where high schools are students aged 14-17. If this is the case, why would the middle school students NEED to be picked up by a high school student on school property? If they are driving a distance, then park the car on a nearby street and have the kids meet there.

    Also, what are the busing distances? My area provides busing for students under age 14 who live beyond 1.7 km from the school. Middle school students should be fine to walk that distance alone or meet nearby to walk with siblings/peers.

    The school I teach at has had to call the police a number of times because students from the nearby high school have come to our school during lunch hour to harass our students or vandalize property. It’s not something that is done every time or on a first offense, but I can see where a policy like this would come into play if there has been repetitive problems.

  59. Jackie March 31, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    I can see why you might want to tell HS kids they cannot just go over and “hang out” at the MS. Sometimes we have 1/2 days at our HS and the MS does not. Our schools are about 1/2 a mile apart, in a residential section, so easy walking. HS kids are not allowed over there at that time-they seem to think they can visit and go see their former teachers, or just in general, lurk about for lack of something better to do. However, HS kids are allowed to pick up their siblings and be on MS property at the end of school. If they misbehave, they are no longer allowed. It’s a small enough district (one MS feeding the HS) that the MS teachers usually would know the troublemaker. This principal is totally out of line and overreaching. A ridiculous message is being sent to our older kids, as many have already posted here. Just another case of a blanket rule being applied, which causes more harm than good. Ridiculous.

  60. Bill March 31, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    @Sara: “I don’t have a problem with it if there are specific reasons for the ban. So if there have been problems with kids causing trouble or preying on the girls I’ve got no problem with it AND it’s not like these middle schoolers aren’t able to walk home on their own or meet their siblings two blocks away.”

    I have a huge problem with it; if there have been specific incidents, deal with them, not by passing a blanket ban on proper behavior by others. Given the modern fashion for magnet schools it not clear what distance ‘walking home’ might involve. And I can think of many urban neighborhoods where an off-camp[us meet would not be a brilliant idea.

    But the basic issue here is administrators not thinking through issues and trying to take the easy way out…inconvenience many rather than deal with the few.

  61. Jen March 31, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    I completely understand banning high school students from entering the building, especially during school hours. I work in a middle school and there have been numerous incidents of high schoolers coming into the building and causing not trouble but distraction to learning. But banning them from even being on the property, especially after school, is bizarre.

  62. bmj2k March 31, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    I understand that this might be a reaction to trouble caused by the high school students but this is an overreaction. Why not just have the parents fill out a permission slip for the older kids to pick up their younger siblings so there is both parental oversight and a responsible reason for the older kids being there with parental consent and liability? Any older student without a valid permission won’t be allowed in, those with valid ones will be. It is no big deal to keep a list at the entrance and ten seconds to check it.

  63. BMP March 31, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Thank goodness my youngest daughter attends a Middle School with sense. Our orthodontist is “kitty-corner” from the school across low-volume Town streets. She leaves to get her braces adjusted then returns to school to get the bus home! I just have to send in a note. I sense by some of the posts and other news stories that this wouldn’t be allowed in some areas.

  64. Steven March 31, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Wow I really hope that the school changes their attitude already.

  65. Cheryl W March 31, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    Jenn, can you explain the busing for kids under 14? Does that mean that kids 14 and older cannot ride the bus? If that is the case, I would never had made it to or from school from the ages of 14 to 18, when I graduated. We lived 10 miles from school, (not the farthest, by far) and my parents could not afford to insure any of us kids or provide us with cars. As our focus was on school and sports, none of us got a job or driver’s license until after graduating.

  66. Shannon March 31, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    My kids’ middle school is in a safe suburban neighborhood, but there’s no good reason that a high schooler should have to park a couple of blocks away and the MSer should have to walk. It’s just stupid.

    If there is an afterschool event or meeting, there would likely be lots of cars parked on the street, or someone might have guests parked on the street (the houses have off-street parking, but some of them don’t have much room for extra cars, so street parking is pretty common). The frequency of street parking means that you couldn’t be assured of parking in a particular spot, or even on a particular block, every time. So the kid looking for their ride is going to have to wander around in search of the car. Which isn’t particularly dangerous in this case, but it’s a stupid waste of everyone’s time.

  67. Lisa Romeo March 31, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    Let’s just tell every teenager, by implication, that they are dangerous, untrustworthy, undesirable, suspicious, unable to contribute to a younger sibling’s life, a threat, etc.
    If the principal is trying to ban potential problem people, better to ban ADULTS! Some of the most despicable behavior I’ve witnessed on school grounds has been by the parents of the students.

  68. Amy - Parenting Gone Mad March 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    Charged by the police??? You can’t be serious! I use to pick my sister up all the time. I loved being the big sister. Seriously, the world is going mad

  69. brenna March 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    This is totally rediculous. I wonder what his reasoning is?

  70. cindy March 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    The gang recruitment is real, whether we want to believe it or not. I saw it in my own middle school where a high school girl had a grudge against a middle school student and wanted to fight her. She was not allowed on campus, thank goodness. But if we just let her on campus with a claim she was fetching someone else it could have been another story. Ugly, but real. and probably not just an anomaly.

    Why can’t we just have a designated area off-campus area where kids can go to be picked up by siblings or whoever wants to (much the same as we allow them to walk to the bus or subway)? We want free range kids; is it too much to ask them to walk 1/2 a block so we can protect others who may be at risk for violent or dangerous activity? Just because you and I grew up one way, do we really believe that it is still the same?

    Let’s find a common ground to keep kids safe on campus at all times. That is what school should be all about. A designated pickup zone off campus would protect all students. Those who needed to pick up their siblings would only need go a bit out of their way, and those who were potential victims of gang activity or at other risk would be protected.

    I love free range, but I am not at all comfortably potentially exposing kids to safety risks that could easily be averted. If we want our kids to be truly free range, we also have to teach them to be aware that there are others out there who may be less scrupulous.

    Safety first. And sadly, this is an area that is too commonly breached in that regard.

  71. Patti March 31, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    This seems to be a case of punishing everyone for the deeds of a few. If HS students are a problem, call the police (that’s what they’re for) to deal with those students. Unfortunately for this principal, you can’t just ban a population group from a public school (which a magnet school is). At the very least, they are allowed to walk up to the door unless they’ve got a court order to stay off the property. You can ban individuals, but I think it takes a judge. Of course, I’m no lawyer.

    A more practical solution is to use permission slips and then just keep track. A good principal will get to know the students who are doing the picking up so she can easily keep an eye on it. If that fails, have the MS student get permission to walk to a point off campus to meet the HS student.

    I’d be calling the ACLU on this one.

  72. David March 31, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    I am with Jen on this point. There is no reason for an older sibling to enter school property to pick a child over the age of 11 up from school. Where I grew up in UK in the 80’s , it was inconceivable that even a parent would need to enter school grounds for a pick-up. Let them park outside and wait for the youngsters to emerge. The human traffic element alone is enough to regulate against too many visitors…

    Jenn, on March 31, 2011 at 05:58 said:

    I’m just wondering how old students in Middle School would be. In my area, middle schools (if they haven’t been amalgamated yet) are for students aged 11-13, where high schools are students aged 14-17. If this is the case, why would the middle school students NEED to be picked up by a high school student on school property?

  73. Lafe March 31, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    Sorry, Cindy, but asking hundreds of kids to go out of their way and do something inconvenient (and potentially dangerous in other ways) is not the answer when one kid (or a very small number of kids) is out of line or wants to beat someone up. You address the kid(s) with the problem, NOT make hundreds of other kids and families give up perfectly normal freedoms.

    Making up a blanket change for everyone just because no one has a spine to deal with the actual, specific, real problem is not the right approach.

  74. Silver Fang March 31, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    It’s just another symptom of the sickness of a culture that treats people in their teens like overgrown children instead of the adults they truly are.

  75. Donna March 31, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    “If this is the case, why would the middle school students NEED to be picked up by a high school student on school property?”

    Maybe it’s not about NEED. Maybe it’s about siblings, I don’t know, actually LIKING each other and wanting to walk home together rather than alone. Maybe the little sibling is being bullied and the big sibling wants to protect him.

    As for gang recruitment, gangs are localized organizations. Gangs have territory and recruit from within that territory. If you are in the gang’s territory, they don’t need to go to middle school to recruit you; they can go down the street. Nor do they need to send high school students to recruit. Gangs are not 14 and up only organizations. I’ve represented 8 and 9 year olds who are part of gangs. Many older gang members have little brothers, cousins, children, nephews, etc. who’ve been part of the gang since birth. One of their jobs is to recruit their classmates who are not already part of the gang.

  76. David March 31, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    Donna ”
    Maybe it’s not about NEED. Maybe it’s about siblings, I don’t know, actually LIKING each other and wanting to walk home together rather than alone. Maybe the little sibling is being bullied and the big sibling wants to protect him.”
    I can understand that. So the older sibling says: “I’ll meet you outside”. End of problem. No overcrowding on the premises…

  77. Donna March 31, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    “So the older sibling says: “I’ll meet you outside”. End of problem. No overcrowding on the premises…”

    But why should the sibling HAVE to do so? If the sibling is not causing problems on the school grounds, there is no reason that he or she should be kept off property.

    My child’s future school is open to the public except during school hours. Many neighborhood kids play on the playground, including my daughter who will not be a student until August. The neighborhood residents recently complained about the playground being inaccessible until 6pm (due to after school program) and the school administrators and neighborhood residents are now getting together a plan to share the playground with local kids from 2:30 to 6.

    That is the way a neighborhood school should work. It should embrace the local community and try to make the local community feel invested in the school; not treat the school as an entity separate from the local community. This is why this school has gone from one of the least desirable schools in the district to one of the most desirable schools in the district, with people moving into the neighborhood to send their children to this school.

  78. David March 31, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    I see the valid point you are making- the ideal situation is that the school is totally open. As we don’t know the reality of the school presented it is difficult to judge what the motivations of the director were.
    My point was to answer those who said that this arrangement would somehow hamper the high school kids picking up their 11-13 year old brothers and sisters. When I went to school, there was nothing that would have enticed my older siblings to enter our school buildings. I got the bus home, so there was no question of needing a ride from anyone. I would have been embarrassed if at 11 I had to be personally picked up by a parent or a sibling and would have told them to wait out of everyone’s gaze. My own kids school, which is in Europe (Poland) has a policy of registering those who can pick up children and this works fine, though my son (age 10) , has been walking or bussing there for the past 3 years. There is no age restriction for picking up. However, they are in primary school. None of the gang or other issues apply. From a traffic point of view, it makes sense if there is a break between school home time and the use of the school for other purposes, but if it works well at your local school, then fine…

  79. Library Momma April 1, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    When I was 17, I was given the fun task of driving my sister to nursery school (she is about 12 years younger than me). This was back in 1985-86, and the school didn’t seem to have a problem with this at all. The hard part for me was getting her to school on time. Sometimes I picked her up as well, though not as often. The school had a list of people authorized to sign the kids in and out of class.

    Wouldn’t it be better for siblings to walk each other home rather than walk alone anyway? I’d think it would be safer than not. The logic here eludes me.

  80. Ralphinjersey April 1, 2011 at 12:33 am #

    Someone needs to let that principal’s village know that its idiot has escaped.

  81. Lauren April 1, 2011 at 5:17 am #

    Ridiculous. I’m the oldest of 5 and my husband’s the oldest of 8, and we did plenty of sibling chauffeuring.

    What about babysitters? My brother and sisters earned money in high school picking up school-aged kids and caring for them in the afternoon.

    Heaven forbid we let teenagers be productive members of their families/society.

  82. Mombo April 1, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    At our school we have lots of middle or high school students picking up siblings and we’re fine with it. Sometimes they bring their friends and that’s when it seems they can get mouthy or beligerent. We just ask that the “friends” wait outside while the big brothers/sisters sign out their siblings and then there’s no problem. Families need the flexibility that responsible siblings can add to the family schedule.
    As to SKL’s statement about being “insulted” that the teacher wouldn’t discuss her siblings’ education with her, that’s just the law. The law is very clear who has access to information and who doesn’t. Step-parents don’t even have the same access rights as biological parents. Most schools, as long as all the parents (bio & step) play nice usually don’t make much distinction. Siblings, unless they are the guardians, basically have no right to their siblings educational information. The teacher, while not saying it very well, was just following the law. Maybe if her questions had been more of a general nature about education and not specific about her sibling, the teacher could have acted more in a mentor-type role and answered her questions in a general way. It’s always good to encourage possible future teachers and the teacher may have been happy to do that.

  83. Shannon April 1, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    The memo doesn’t say that siblings can’t enter the building. It says they can’t be on the PROPERTY. I agree that there’s no reason that a sibling, or anyone picking a kid up after school, needs to enter the building.

    But as to the idea of a designated meeting place off campus–again, my kids’ school is in a residential neighborhood. There is no non-residential property for for several blocks EXCEPT the school. What are they supposed to do–meet in some random person’s driveway? Even if there are businesses and such around a school, most businesses wouldn’t appreciate being over-run, or having their parking spots taken up by, people who aren’t there to spend any money.

    If the picking-up sibling is walking, sure they could just wait on the sidewalk or whatever (although it sounds like this principal would object to that as well). But I would assume that many/most of the HS kids picking up younger sibs are driving, in which case they should be able to use the same process as anyone else picking up kids–in most schools I’m familiar with, that involves driving onto the campus. Usually not getting out of the car, but you are on school property.

    I would also expect as a parent to be able to have an older sibling check a younger one out early if it was ever necessary (with my permission), and that would require being in the building.

  84. JeneeLyn April 2, 2011 at 3:37 am #

    I had four younger siblings and parents who worked full time. If the middle schoolers had had to ride the bus home, they would have gotten home a full 30-45 minutes later than if I picked them up. The suggestion that the middle school student meet the older sibling off campus creates far more safety issues than having high schoolers on a middle school campus. Cars parked in random spots throughout the neighborghood and kids crossing the street in multiple locations. When 100 plus kids are leaving school, this gives many opportunities for accidents. Teenagers are not all evil ne’er do wells and giving them responsibilities is a benefit to the family, the school system, and the community at large.

  85. Dolly April 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    Sigh schools making stupid rules. Nothing new there. I get so sick of zero tolerance policies. There is a happy medium folks! Sure there might have been older boys coming to pick up young girlfriends or something which does unfortunately happen. So instead of just dealing with that, they ban all high school kids. Sigh.

    How about just having the parents fill out a liability form allowing the sibling to pick them up and then they can issue a pass the sibling can carry to show they have permission to be on property and pick them up? Simple solution. Middle schools get run like instituions, they did when I went to them. So you know, nothing new. They have all kinds of asinine rules that make no sense and are not fair.

    This is why I might end up cussing administration out when my kids are in middle school and home schooling them. I hated the unfair rules when I went there and I am going to hate them when my kids go there.

  86. LEA April 4, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    This is crazy. I wouldn’t tolerate it. I would simply instruct any high school age child I had picking up a middle school sibling to stand on the public sidewalk waiting or to get in the car line with all the others picking up in cars and ignore this nutty new rule. It would be impossible for a principle or police to do anything to to a person on public property to pick someone up. OK not impossible just really illegal. I would also send a letter to the principle reminding him that harassing my high school age child would be seen as reason for a lawsuit in my eyes. I’m not big on lawsuits but I am fed up with teenagers being dumped upon in society. Calling the police on a teenager that has a legitimate purpose to be waiting on public property or even school property (school parking lot for pick up), is nothing more than harassment and age discrimination. It does take a village and teenagers are park of that village. If a particular teen is behaving badly or wandering the middle school then go ahead and ban them, the same as you would any other person who has no purpose on the school grounds or is causing a disruption.

  87. ariadne April 4, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    My youngest has walked to and from school since kindergarten (1 block). His older brother (by 10 yrs) was allowed to pick him up due to scheduling difficulties or family emergency. Later on, his long term girlfriend had consent to pick him up as well.

    We had to fill out forms allowing consent for these individuals, so what is the problem? One time, my littlest had to have his grandparents pick him up and they were on “the list”. They had to produce ID to verify their identity, as no one knew who they were in the office. They were not offended and produced ID.

    This is a school (like many others, I’m sure) who has had problems with non-custodial parents and grandparents in the past.

  88. JP April 4, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    This is a middle school we’re talking about?
    That would be what – grades 7 & 8?

    Gee, either they must be on drugs (the admin) or scared to death the highschoolers are coming to dole out death-dealing dope, um?

    It used to make perfect sense that a healthy community would encourage responsible involvements shared among younger and older siblings……..but I guess some communities are no longer that sensible or that healthy.

    But I’m still trying to wrap my head around this middle school thing: they’re old enough to come and go on their own, anyhow………(aren’t they?)
    Jumpin’ juniper, daddy warbucks!
    Freaky and scary.

    I’m tempted to think there’s more to it…but I get a sore brain from trying to figure out how these minds work…

  89. Sky April 6, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    ] I think we should at the very least go back to a K-8, then 9-12 system. My kid will go to a K-2, a 3-4, a 5-8, and then high school.

    Here we have K-6 then 7-12.

  90. Francesca April 7, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    I’m from a rural area where both the elementary and middle schools are required to end their day AFTER the high school. Or less there would be no one home to watch the younger children, either siblings or neighbors. Remember: it takes a village to tell someone they are an idiot. Keep up the fight parents, before you are not allowed to pick up your kids.

  91. nevins April 8, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    why the quotes around the phrase pick up. (i.e. “pick up” in the article).
    My only other guess on this is that the school has become a hang out for high school kids, and the when questioned, their excuse has been that they were there to pick up a sibling. Perhaps this might forgive the administrators a little.
    But a parent can delegate guardianship in a number of ways, and having a minor charged with sibling care is societally normal.
    In the end, administrators who are unable to make rational decisions on the spot, and are willing to criminalize everything to cover their own cowering selves.

  92. tyree April 8, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    I recently visited my high school alma mater and was surprised to see extraordinary overcrowding in the school parking lot. California has a law that forbids teenagers from driving with friends in the car so every student who drives arrives at the school alone. One agency of the government promotes car pools, and another agency of the government forbids them.

  93. Jim Collins April 9, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    Just remember that every village has an idiot. I think we know who the idiot is in this village.

  94. Mannie April 9, 2011 at 5:26 am #

    Name the school. Name the principal. Name the Superintendent of Schools. Name the School Board President.. Public humiliation is the only practical way to fight Public Sector Idiocy. Drive the cockroaches out with light.

  95. Kimberlina April 12, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Oh this truly makes me love my kids montessori school all the more!
    They actually have a family responsibility policy where older siblings are encouraged to take charge of their little brothers or sisters who are in the kindergarden or preschool areas at dismissal time. They are excused a couple of minutes early to (wait for it..) CROSS THE ROAD (!!!) to the kindergarden school, collect baby brothers and sisters… and walk them back ACROSS the road to the ‘big’ school ( it is a quiet cul de sac and there is a crossing guard).
    Non-family members can also volunteer for this as it has been so popular, but has to be agreed by both sets of parents (of course).
    Can you tell that we are not living in the US currently?

  96. gina October 28, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    My 5th child is 13 years younger than my oldest. Once my oldest was driving, on every release form, for every younger child, I wrote:

    _____may be picked up by (older siblings names) at any time for any reason.
    This meant that if I or my husband was not reachable, the older sibling could determine if the younger needed to leave school. Because my children were raised free-range and expected behave in a responsible manner, I never worried that any one of them would abuse this. None of them ever have.
    The problem is that our society is so litigious that I imagine there are parents who would sue the school if an older sibling had an auto accident, or if a younger one fell while walking with the older one. Schools need to protect themselves, yes, but I won’t be told how to parent.

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