Parents Must Sign In 3 Times to School: Um…How Is This Making Kids Safer?

    • Here’s befzneeatd
      a modern day ill: The excessive signing-in we’re required to do at schools, as if they’re nuclear reactors. I still don’t understand why. If I were intent on wreaking havoc, wouldn’t I at least get a fake ID to flash? The whole exercise reeks of “security theater.” And at my kids’ schools I just have to sign in once, unlike this lady! —  L.

      Dear Free-Range Kids: I’m in the process of discussing a ridiculous policy with my child’s school. I have to sign in THREE times within 5 minutes to pick up my daughter from preschool.

      They make you go through the front office, then you have to sign in (but no one checks it and you don’t get ID’ed, so wth is that doing?). Then you have to wear a sticker that says you are a visitor (cause stickers protect????). Then you walk like 50 yards to the preschool room, where you sign your child out (which I get that part. It’s so they can keep track of which kids came to school that day). And then you have to walk back out the main office (even though there is a closer gate we COULD use and frankly IF I were a perpetrator I WOULD use) and sign out again. EVERY DAY.

      Ostensibly, this is all  in response to parents’ concerns about who’s there during school hours. I want to suggest perhaps EDUCATING the parents rather then catering to their fear.

      Update: Okay. I went in and refuted every argument logically. NOW they tell me it’s really for…FIRE safety. WTH? How do little stickers help with FIRE SAFTEY??? Apparently fires ONLY occur (or we only CARE if they occur) during school hours. So if you are there in the morning with the kids, they don’t care if you burn and die, BUT if you come at 11:00 a.m. you have to sign in because they DO care and want to know to search for you (but they don’t care about the 2 year old I have with me….) Once again keeping in mind I sign THREE times and only travel a distance of maybe 50 yards and I have to wear a sticker for some reason while doing so. Why, why, why? — Stickered Mom


55 Responses to Parents Must Sign In 3 Times to School: Um…How Is This Making Kids Safer?

  1. CS August 2, 2012 at 3:16 am #

    The reason for the sticker is to identify you as an ‘authorized’ person in the building that is not a teacher. A school in Lincoln NE a few years ago had a small child molested in the building by a person that entered the building via a secondary entrance because it wasn’t locked or monitored. He then roamed the school for at least 15 minutes (based on those that saw him at different times) but there was nothing in place to require any action from a teacher because they all thought he was a parent or relative or ‘something’, so roam he did. He then molested a little boy in a bathroom.

    Teachers wear badges on lanyards and parents have to sign in at the office and wear a badge and can only enter through 1 door as a result, in Lincoln. Considering the amount of mayhem I pulled just 15 years ago in my HS and elementary school by being able to roam freely at will (even after I was in college) I’m not upset by this. The buildings should never have been accessible in that manner, no matter what quaint country hamlet you might live in (even Lincoln, Nebraska.

  2. SKL August 2, 2012 at 3:23 am #

    Is it strange that my kids’ daycare employees recognize me as the person authorized to take my kids home? Would that not be the case most of the time? The door is locked; so don’t let anyone in without knowing who they are, and don’t let any kids leave with someone unless you know who they are. Or do they normally just release kids to whoever points and grunts?

    If the daycares are so huge that the staff has no idea who’s a parent and who isn’t, how can they properly care for the kids? I mean, you have to get to know the kids to help them learn, right?

  3. RyanE August 2, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    How would taking someone’s fake name (without an ID) have prevented the ‘reason for the sticker’ you mention?

    It would’ve been someone walking around the halls for 15 minutes who *had* a sticker, as opposed to one who did *not* have a sticker. I don’t think having a sticker on prevents someone from being a child molester.

  4. Dulcie August 2, 2012 at 3:27 am #

    The more I hear of other schools “safety” policies, I’m more thankful for my children’s school. I *think* you may have to buzz in to be allowed into the elementary/middle school during the day – if the staff remembers to lock the doors after school starts. You just walk right into the high school. There’s no signing in/out, but that probably has a lot to do with the small size of the district – maybe about 700 kids in the entire district – the office staff knows all the parents by sight if not by name. They also have this wonderful policy of ONE permission slip per year. You sign one all inclusive permission slip and you’re covered for the entire year, kids leave school grounds/go on field trips/etc hassle free. I guess we’ve got what you’d call a Free-Range School and I love it!

  5. TehMan August 2, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    Part of the issue is the schools are just covering their asses. In case something does happen, they can say they took every step they could to prevent it. So they don’t look as bad.

    It is ridiculous I agree, and the whole prison like environment is why I’d never make my kids go to school (free learning wooooo) but I understand why they do it in these sue happy days.

  6. Nerd-faced Girl August 2, 2012 at 3:45 am #

    Our preschool had us sign the kids in and out, but nobody stood there and watched us do it. If I forgot to do it I’d get a phone call; they said it was for purposes of record keeping.

    I had to pick up my daughter at the door in kindergarten and first grade, at least making eye contact with the teacher. After that they just let the kids loose. There were signs everywhere saying parents had to sign in at the office, but it was never enforced. There was a back gate that a lot of us used to pick our kids up from the classrooms on the far side of the school from the office, that the janitor locked when school started and unlocked just before it ended.

    This was a fine amount of security. What made me feel more safe is that by the time second grade rolled around, I’d met many of the teachers and knew most of the other parents. We’d all been to birthday parties at each other’s houses. I knew there’d be plenty of people looking out for my child.

  7. CrazyCatLady August 2, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    To be in the school that we have, which is like a public home school program with some classes on site, we have to sign in and have a tag. For us, this makes sense. The school rooms are in a church, and yes, the church does have people coming in a different door and shouldn’t be wandering around the kids.

    And yes, they do check the sign in sheet when they have a fire drill. Last semester we were there all day one day a week, and I took my RV. I parked in the back away from kids as I felt safer backing out of the parking space when I know there are not little ones running around. My kids were in and out all day, I was in the RV part of the time, and inside helping with classes for part of the time. I was supposed to sign in and out each time I went in and out. I understand why….but I forgot half the time.

    But, at least they did make one good change. It used to be that the kids who were in classes also had to sign in and out at the door, along with getting attendance taken. Now they only have to sign in if they are not in a class and are in the building.

    Signing in 3 times for the school seems a bit much. Other elementary schools here (where my son does speech therapy) only have to sign in and out, and use a sticker or tag. Unfortunately, to go and talk to the therapist in her office instead of the front office in front of everyone, I did have to fill out a parent volunteer form and do a background check. The first year I had to fill it out for our home school program and the school with speech therapy even though they are in the same district.

  8. enyawface August 2, 2012 at 3:57 am #

    Maybe you should sign in as Ida Fire, and get your kid out faster?

  9. Daniel Larkin August 2, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    They use the “fire safety” line at my place of employment to make employees sign in and sign out.

  10. Emily August 2, 2012 at 3:59 am #

    When I was in preschool, it was a small program (church basement one year, Montessori the next), and generally speaking, the teachers and the parents knew each other, so they’d know which parents belonged to which kids. I think a lot of these policies could be circumvented with a simple “back-to-school meet-and-greet” evening, with, say, coffee for the parents, juice for the kids, and cookies for everyone. The kids could play get-to-know-you games, colour, and possibly have some free play, and the parents could socialize, meet the teachers, and ask questions. If all the parents went to that, then there’d be no need to start treating the preschool like an airport.

  11. Decemberbaby August 2, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    Emily – you must be kidding. Juice?!? That’s practically rat poison around here! Do you want all our kids to get cavities and diabetes?

  12. Beth August 2, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    I understand the alleged concept of the stickers and/or tags, but I don’t understand how they prevent anything or promote safety. Especially if there’s no id’ing involved; signing the clipboard and getting a sticker (it was that way at my kids school, and the office staff didn’t know me from Adam) still allows anyone and everyone to roam around the school at will. OK, they know who’s there in case of a fire or, I suppose, other disaster, unless of course the sign-in sheet burns or is destroyed.

    But in terms of making parents feel more confident that there aren’t “pedos” or “perverts” wandering the hallways? A sticker does absolutely nothing. Security theater, indeed.

  13. Victoria August 2, 2012 at 5:33 am #

    When I was picking up a friends kid from day care, she had called prior and gave them my information. When I showed up they took a photo copy of my drivers license and then got the kiddo. Now my friend doesn’t have to call ahead because I am on file.

    I wasn’t allowed in the rest of the building, just in their foyer. That suited me just fine.

  14. Terzah August 2, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    My kids’ preschool implemented a policy last year (in the name of fire safety) that they have to wear their shoes when they nap. And no we weren’t allowed to give them soft slippers. The argument for this was that if a fire happened in winter and they had no shoes, their feet would be cold outside. Sigh. I like our preschool a lot…but yeah, we had two sign-ins.

  15. Emily August 2, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    @Decemberbaby–I forgot that juice was that “bad.” I drank tons of it as a child, in various forms–100% fruit juices, reconstituted frozen juices, Kool-Aid, Crystal Light, etc.–and I don’t have diabetes. But, back to my main point, who else here thinks that making an effort to get to know everyone at the beginning of the year, would help alleviate the need for all of these Draconian security measures? I’m not saying that one meet-and-greet evening would do it, but it’d open up the doors of communication–kids would play and make friends before school started, and parents and teachers would talk, and through those first conversations, one parent might volunteer to help with the field trip to the zoo, another might volunteer to organize the Halloween party, and so on, and so forth. Then, you wouldn’t need to start playing TSA at preschool, because early on in the school year, they’d know you not just by your name tag that says (for example), “Raquel Walmartson,” but also as “Travis’ mom who makes the Rice Krispie Squares that the kids love.” I guess what I’m saying is, instead of building fear, build a sense of community.

  16. Beth August 2, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    I run a small church preschool. We question strangers in the building, and make it difficult for those without children here to enter. We know all the parents. We strive to know all the other caregivers who pick up and drop off. With that said, the state requires us to have all of them physically sign in at every drop off and pick up. In our state, this is actually not a requirement for safety but satisfies the regulation addressing attendance records and how they are recorded and kept (require affirmation by signature from the parent.) Different schools interpret the regulations different ways, usually depending on the individual nuances of their inspectors–each one focuses on different things, or in turn interprets the regulations their own way. The inspector checks these sign-ins when she’s here (always unannounced), and our license to operate is at stake for not complying. Additionally, the state lists even the smallest infractions as a “non compliance” in a publicly searchable database on its website, that parents use when shopping for preschool. Needless to say, not good for business to have “non compliance” stamped on your head on line with no explanation–especially when it’s over a missing signature. I empathize with the parents complaining..I usually commiserate with them…and I’m certain there are schools who “over interpret” these things. But speaking from experience, the combined influence of licensing regulations, inspectors, insurance companies and lawyers is enough to make a lot of school administrators look loony. The problem is much bigger than an individual preschool administrator and her policies.

  17. kimmarmos August 2, 2012 at 6:40 am #

    Our “award winning” new elementary school has an office set about 25 yards back from the front door, behind a big wall of glass. The secretary sits behind a counter tall enough to block her vision of the door. There’s nothing to stop anyone from trucking right down the hallways to the classrooms. If you do stop in the office, you have to have your license scanned before you can get a badge. At my old elementary, my mom, the secretary, could reach over the counter and literally grab anyone who didn’t check in. And she has. She knew every parent and who should have custody when. That’s probably not PC anymore, though.

  18. Amy Huckaby August 2, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    Speaking as a parent and as a guest employee of my children’s school district, I am annoyed with these measures also but it’s just a little thing, really. Taking a moment to sign in and slap a sticker on and showing your face is a step that an upstanding person with nothing to hide will do. This wouldn’t stop a bad guy but might be just enough to alert someone to a suspicious situation.
    Everyone at my kid’s school knows me but I still sign in and grab a badge. It’s the least I can do.

  19. Elizabeth August 2, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    It is all so goofy and arbitrary. At my daughters’ preschool, housed in a church, the church decided to allow a homeless person with some severe mental illness issues to live in the church for several months. The person spent the day wandering around the church building, occasionally walking into classrooms while the students were there.

    I understood the charitable impulse that led the church to offer this person a safe place to live, but I thought that the preschool parents (who were paying some hefty tuition bills) should have been informed and given an opportunity to comment, especially as these were the days before cellphones, and the classrooms did not have phones. So if there had been a problem, it would have been hard for the teacher to reach help. (When I raised this with the pastor, I got the “You’re not much of a Christian if this worries you” response. I replied that the parsonage had six empty bedrooms, and as a member of the church I would be more than happy to support his decision to open his home to the homeless.)

    Then at the elementary school, completely different and equally arbitrary. The doors were locked, so the school secretary had to buzz visitors in. But there was no video camera, so she couldn’t see whether she was buzzing in a well-intentioned suburban mom or a crazed militia member. I volunteered almost every day, and every day I had to fill out a stick-on badge. (I often had to wait for the school secretary to come out to the desk to give me my badge. I guess crazed militia members would be equally obedient about the “get a badge before you go inside the classroom and run amok” rule.)

    I tried to point out that I was there so often I knew all the teachers, and I also pointed out that the “wear a stick-on badge” rule was likely to be broken by marauders. I also asked for a permanent badge so i could stop wasting stick-on badges. No dice. Oddly, I don’t think I was required to sign out. Or maybe I just forgot a lot. Sigh.

  20. Dave August 2, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    Just nuts!

  21. Suzanne August 2, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    I think it’s ridiculous,a waste of money (for the stickers) and creating excess waste to wear a sticker to retrieve your child from the classroom. I understand having parents wear stickers if you are going to be there for a long length of time. Why don’t they have you stand in the office and call for your child to come there if they are so concerned about you being loose in the building for 5 minutes?

    At my son’s preschool you had to sign a sheet if he was in extended care (not preschool class.) The purpose of this was to record the time you picked your child up, it was compared to a sheet the teacher marked in the room. I believe the purpose of this was to show that you and the person in the room agreed upon the time only for the purpose of charging you for the care, it was by the hour. When he went to his preschool class he walked in by himself from a “drop off line” of cars supervised by staff. Parents stood outside the classrooms for pick-up, if they didn’t recognize you an id had to be shown.

    At the elementary school, you sign in if you are volunteering in the classroom and you get a sticker, I believe it’s so the teacher/other parents know what to call you and also of course it identifies that you signed in. If I am just picking one of them up during school hours they buzz you in the front door and I stand in the office. The office calls the calssroom and sends the kid down, I sign a card stating I picked them up. I think the schools all doors locked policy is overkill because there were so few incidents before it started. On the other hand, I also think that there are more custody issues and parental abductions (more likely than a stranger) now so it probably isn’t really a bad idea. Even though those are probably pretty rare too.

  22. TRS August 2, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    At my daughters’ pre school to pick your kid up early you go to the office and they bring the child to you there. I don’t remember signing in or out.

    If I am going to pick my kids up at elementary and middle school I send an e-mail to tell them what time I will be there. I wait for them in the foyer of the school and off we go. I do sign them out but I think that is fine for accountability purposes. You are not allowed to just meander around the school to get your kids. If you volunteer you do sign in and out. I really see this as no big deal. I think it is important for them to know what adults are in the building.

    I work in a mental health hospital and we basically go through the same procedures for our patients. It is important for their safety and privacy.

  23. me August 2, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    That’s the thing though… no one checks who is signing in, you could sign any name at all, so how is that protecting safety and privacy? And its not a “special circumstance” its picking up from preschool every single day. A badge of some sort was also suggested, but was told since it was for fire safety it was not an option. Signing in once, fine, more than once within 5 minutes EVERY.SINGLE.DAY… overkill.

  24. Rick August 2, 2012 at 8:36 am #

    Yes, similar story with me… I am the director of the afterschool program housed ON THE SCHOOL SITE where my youngest attends Kindergarten (1st grade in a couple of weeks!). His older brother spent 3 years at the school as well. I’ve been the director and a familiar face ON CAMPUS for 7-1/2 years now.

    How surprised I was when I was informed that I had to go sign in and get a special volunteer sticker to volunteer in my child’s class (which I did for 3 hours every Monday). Not like everyone has known me there for the better part of a decade. Sheesh.

  25. ifsogirl August 2, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    @ CS, my kids school has a laminated visitor pass on a string to wear, thing is when you walk in the front entrance you walk right past the office and into the school. I have never asked for a pass when I’ve gone to drop off a coat or forgetten lunch, and no one has ever stopped me. No child has been stolen or molested either.

    As for the preschool they went to it was fairly relaxed. You knock on the door if it’s outside of usual class drop off, they bring you your child. If you have someone else picking your kid up you are supposed to inform the school asap and they then ask for picture ID just to check. No signing in or out at all.

  26. Kimberly August 2, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    I agree with the CYA part of the sign in procedures.

    5 or so years ago a man showed up at a school and said he wanted to volunteer. He wasn’t a parent, but claimed to be a relative of a particular boy. The man set off the hinky meter of the secretary. She gave him the paper work to fill out, before becoming a volunteer. She also asked for his DL, which she took to make a copy. While in the back – she called the parents of the boy he claimed to be related to.

    They knew the name – he had molested the boy and they thought he was still in prison. (The authorities failed to notify them of his release). 911 was called. The district level administrators were called. The guy left. An e-mail was sit out describing what happened, stating the district was trying to find out if there were other victims that he might try approaching this way. The police were still at school 1 – when school 2 called 911 and the district administration the same guy had showed up at their school with same story different victim. Cops head there -he leaves. We get another alert this one with a mug shot.

    A 3rd school calls 911 and administration (This guy is an idiot and a creep). Because of the particulars of our district we now have 2 different city PD’s and the County Sheriffs involved. Schools around those three school go on modified lock down. Kids still change rooms and such but their is a heighten staff awareness and teachers are in the halls. At schools like mine, kids are escorted to the bathrooms, because they have to go outside to get to them. (Our school is former open concept, built around a garden. You have to walk outside to go from one grade level pod to another or to the bathrooms).

    The schools were told to keep the main offices open. Police officers were told to park away from the schools, walk to the school, and hide just out of sight and wait till this idiot showed up. He was arrested, went back to jail for violating the terms of his release.

    What did the papers and tv news report
    1. That staff members contacted parents because they thought this guy was hinky

    2. That kids were kept safe and calm during this time.

    3. That 3 different police forces worked together to get this creep w/o fussing over who would get credit.

    No they reported that in my district 6 or 7 schools allowed a known child molester to apply to be a volunteer. No mention that the first 2 schools used giving him the paper work as a delay tactic to get the cops there. That the other schools were acting on the orders of the cops.

    Now everyone who walks into a district owned building either has district ID or has a state issued picture id scanned through a machine that checks for certain type of offences against children.

  27. Beth August 2, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    @Amy Huckaby, the argument that we should all comply like sheep because we have “nothing to hide” is ridiculous. It’s a meaningless, accusatory, knee-jerk response when people don’t want to blindly follow arbitrary rules that do nothing to keep anyone any safer than they were before implementation of those rules. Discussion, analysis, and conversations with the rule makers, as the OP has tried to do, is always preferable, and has nothing to do with having something to hide.

  28. Merrick August 2, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    I am a substitute in my district, and carry a district issued ID. Which identifies me as you know — an employee, with a background check. One day I was going in to sub for the afternoon at my kids’ school and decided to go early and grab lunch with my kids. First I checked in as a sub that I had arrived, picked up my paperwork, had my ID scanned…

    Then they made me sign in as a visitor and wear a visitor sticker. Cause they didn’t know I was there? Or perhaps my employee badge was not adequate identification but the bright yellow sticker, yeah that’d help (not to mention I’ve had kids in this school for ten years, ALL of the staff know me!)

  29. Karla Frye August 2, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    I work at an elementary school and a 6-12 building. The elementary school requires a sticker for volunteers and parents. I do not see this as overly restrictive. The ES has 1000 pupils. No way can teachers recognize all parents. Parents are required to sign in and show ID to pick up children who leave before the end of the school day. Lots of parents complain about this bc they are known, but the office staff again, does not recognize every parent and can’t be expected to wave through those they know and ID those they don’t. We always have at least a few issues w parents or others who can’t pick up kids bc of some sort of court order. Yes, the school does have to CYA. Why blame this on the school or the always maligned attorneys? Blame it on the real problem: parents who can’t be trusted w their own children, and people who are willing to sue over any mistake. What else are schools to do!

  30. Decemberbaby August 2, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    @ Emily – GAH! WordPress ate the “/sarcastic hysteria” part of my comment. I was, as usual, joking. And I think my kids had about three cups of juice each today, after they had finished their freezies. I think a beginning-of-term meet and greet would be fabulous.

  31. CS August 2, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Elizabeth-its the arbitrary nature of the enforcement that is the reason for my local school’s stance and their change of policy. Our school does not require a ‘sticker’. You have to be checked in at the office, and one checked in (with ID) you are given a badge. The check in involves, in part, a scan of your name with a District database for things like flagged sexual offenders and non-custodial parents with protection orders against them. Is it a pain? Yes. Is it better than having it happen again, in the absence of any policies at all? Yes. I’ve spoken with our new principal about the policies in place, and she was the principal of the school where this prior incident happened.Ive heard her speak publicly about it, and ive heard the pain in her voice. Her lack of policy at the school was the same across the whole district, she just had the bad luck to be the principal at the time. After it happened she went to other schools and helped draft the new policies in place district wide, now.

  32. Jet August 2, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    I don’t think anyone here is saying that a sane sign-in policy and stickers for people who are visiting a campus for an extended period of time are a bad idea. In fact, they’re a pretty good idea for any number of reasons, many of which have been outlined above. The complaint was that the OP had to sign in/out herself TWICE, in addition to signing out her child, all on the off chance that the building might catch in fire in the five minutes that she was there.

    Talk about assumptions of incompetence — was the OP, a grown woman and parent, suddenly going to forget to crawl below the smoke, how to check doors for fire, or how to get out of the building herself? The school has taken it upon themselves to be just as responsible for transient visitors as they are for the children in case of fire. I mean, how often does that really happen, anyway?

  33. Uly August 2, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    And people put up with this procedure… why? They can’t actually keep your kid if you refuse to participate in the insanity!

    On that note check out this neat vintage ad:

  34. Zoey Cigar- Hodge August 2, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    My school is just like this, everybody that is not a student has to sign in everytime they come on campus. Henestly it does make me feel safer, but you never know what danger students pose. There have been school shootings on the news they where students not parents that are doing the crime.

  35. 104wks August 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    I think some are missing the fine points of this discussion. It is not about signing in and out. This woman has to sign in and out, THREE times and wear a sticker that is not handed to her, she just simply grabs, so ANYONE can just grab a sticker and slap it on.
    I agree with her point that signing her child in and out at the classroom makes sense, but the riggamaroll of the other two times and stickers is ridiculous. I also agree with the commenter that said this is probably all in case of lawsuits. “We did EVERYTHING we could think of, good luck suing!”

  36. Cass August 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Probably been said that signing in/out as a visitor is so that a record is kept of who is on campus.

    In the event of an evacuation all this is checked to ensure everyone has been safely evacuated.

    I doubt it has anything to do with predators etc as we do the same thing in Australian schools.

  37. surmalldvr August 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    I’m 23 years old ,although i wanna have a child ,but the fact isimpossible for me in several years.

  38. Jessica August 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    About waivers. In a pair of sweat pants (american brand) it reads; keep away from fire/open flame. May catch fire”. Wow, really?!

  39. Susan Case August 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    I taught in public schools for years. When I wanted to substitute after “retiring” I had to fill out mounds of paperwork and pay to get fingerprinted 2x and it still didn’t work – guess my fingers were too old and worn down from cooking and cleaning is what I was told, Goodhearted people wanting to volunteer must go through mounds of paperwork – and let me tell you – schools really need volunteers for field trips, cafeteria help, helping in classroom, and the 3 stingy “holiday” parties where kids are allowed sugar. That is outrageous that a parent can’t talk to a speech therapist without a volunteer status. We never had a fire in our school although we had many unannounced dramatic fire drills.

  40. K August 2, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    I am a college professor and used to perform all kinds of activities and in-class demos and so on for local schools. Last year, they implemented a policy that I have to pay for a background check to be approved to help out in the school.

    Not only does that not protect kids from most perpetrators (even Sandusky would have passed until last fall), it encumbers the other 99.99% of people that might want to contribute.

    Hurting our schools, one piece of red tape at a time.

  41. Susan Case August 2, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    K – you are right. Schools need volunteers for so many activities. But people don’t like feeling like their criminals and need to spend so much time filling out paperwork and waiting to be approved before they can take part in their child’s education.

  42. Ash Val August 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    That is a truly barmy system. I understand that the sticker caters for the fears of the parents, but it also provides accountability for the school. It appears that the sticker and sign in system are only safety nets to help the school avoid and legal action if something should happen. Tragic as it is to say. The system is there for the staffs protection, not the children’s.

  43. K August 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    When our kids were in daycare, we constantly ran into completely nonsensical rules and regulations. They would always say that it was “mandated by the state”, or “required for certification”. I got all of the state mandates and certification licensure rules. Almost inevitably, the mandates were just the scapegoat and they assumed that if it was a “rule” no one would question them.

    I am happy to comply with things that make my kids’ experiences better, safer, more meaningful or that really keeps a valuable program the certification, insurance, or state licensure that it requires. I am not happy to do stuff that complicates my life so someone somewhere can tick off a box about how they’ve “added value” to an organization.

    This kind of oversight is Draconian.

  44. Brian August 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    Yes, fire safety. Because that sign in sheet wont burn. Or safety of the kids because getting a sticker is really hard to do (try the parking lot or garbage can near the door of the school?).

    This problem is relatively easy to solve. Just stop complying. Get other parents to stop complying. Tell them we refuse to follow silly policies. That is what a PTA SHOULD be doing. Banding together to say ENOUGH.

    These policies are intended solely to make it as hard as possible to be a single mother or to have a 2 income household. If kids can walk home from school on their own you have many other childcare options, including working from home. But once you have these rules in place, everyone has to have time to pick kids up.

    If they really worried about safety that would assign an id card with scanners like some offices do. You inconvenience parents less and have an actual security measure. These policies, simply a tool to degrade the poor.

  45. Susan Case August 2, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    I always cut the Do Not Remove tags off my pillowcases immediately. This is off topic – but my specialist wouldn’t give me my results over the phone – said I HAD to come and pay another $50 to hear the results from the doctor – although the doctor told me everything looked fine after the colonoscopy – TMI probably. The nurse said it was the law – and I said my other doctors give me results in the mail or over the phone. She was lying?

  46. JC August 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    I think the first response to this post by CS is exactly the kind of thing that ‘free-rangeness’ frowns upon. CS attempts to justify the whole signing in thing because: “Once upon a time in a far-off land called Lincoln Nebraska, a child got molested because they didn’t have proper sign in procedures…”. And I’m sure the media hyped the **** out of this story. This is a classic example described over and over in this blog where an incident gets overreported by the media to the point where people think this is the norm rather than a freak, one in a million occurence.

  47. Christi August 2, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    As a teacher, knowing that my school has a pretty solid policy for visitors going beyond the main office makes my life a lot easier. All visitors are buzzed in by the secretary (she can see you from her desk through the giant front windows, so she knows who she is buzzing in) and anyone going beyond the main office has to sign in, show ID, state destination (k-12 school) and take a badge. As a teacher, this means that if I see some random person wandering around the school without a badge, they are lost or flat-out don’t belong there. In other schools, where I knew there was no real policy going on, I’d be stopping just about every person wandering through the school asking, “Hi, may I help you?” or directing them back to the office. As the person responsible for keeping your kids safe, I do like to know that the people I see in the building belong there. (As a private school, we are also up for accreditation frequently, and our security system is one of the things “tested”. They sent one of the observers into the school without a tag and it wasn’t long before half the staff had sent him or personally walked him back to the main office. This might also be more important for us b/c we have a lot of kids of foreign diplomats, etc, in our building).

  48. Laura (@kyrielle) August 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    The mention of fire safety plus what I see at my son’s day care and their reason makes sense of this policy to me. (Note that I am not saying the policy makes sense or does not – I’m saying I think I get where it comes from!)

    In the event of a fire, they want to know if they’ve evacuated everyone they should have, from the building. If you signed in at the main office and didn’t sign out, they need to account for you. If you signed in and signed out, you were gone before the fire and they don’t have to wonder if you need rescue.

    At my son’s day care, though, it’s only the kids we sign in/out – I guess it’s every adult for him/herself!

  49. Belle August 2, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    Personally, I think they system in place at my daughter’s daycare works wonderfully – it’s a computerized sign in/out system. Every morning when I drop her off I type in an id number and a password. It checks her in and unlocks the door so we can enter. Repeat when I pick her up in the evening (or any other time of day). They have a log of who is there and the facility is relatively secure from random people gaining access. Granted, anyone who has the id and password could get in to pick her up…but it’s certainly better than a paper sign in sheet, etc.

  50. Kamila August 2, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    @K – you’ve just neatly summed up what I wanted to say: first – by doing all the checks they can only weed out child molesters that got caught already (great example Sandusky) and second – a lot less parents are likely to volunteer when excessive requirements are in place. In my kid’s school (private, catholic) they want not only criminal and predator check (for which I would have to pay of course) but also an attendance of 2.5 hours ‘virtuous’ seminar (whatever that means). If you won’t volunteer you have to pay $100 ‘cafeteria fee’. And guess what? I prefer to pay up than jump through their hoops. I thought in this country you are innocent until proven guilty… but I see in reality it’s more like ‘guilty unless you prove otherwise’

  51. Marcy August 3, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    I haven’t read all the comments but I do want to question the “nobody checks the name” story people keep telling. My boys go to a large school with kids bussed in from all over the county. The first few times I went in to the main office, the secretary watched me until she was able to remember where she had seen my face before. She watched that I signed in. I’ve noticed her do this the few times I have been in the office. While doing whatever task is at hand, she makes note of who is in her surroundings. I can see a difference in her when she doesn’t recognize someone and then when she figures out who that someone is. Personally I think going through the main office on your way in is good. I don’t think you should need to check out again. I am vehemently against background checks of volunteers who will never intentionally be alone with a child. But I don’t buy the whole “anybody could waltz in there” story. Sure you could sign a funny name, but my money is on the staff having already recognized who you are, negating the need for a signature check.

  52. awombatsweb August 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    When they know that their arguments failed and know they are wrong, they lie their butts off only to look ever foolish in the process. Careful, sounds like a future politician.

  53. Donna August 5, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    @Laura – Do you really think anyone cares about the damn log book if there is a fire? For this to be effective, someone actually has to make a point of, instead of helping the KIDS out of the building, going to the office and taking the log book outside with them. How many times in an actual fire – while dealing with many young children – do you think the log book gets remembered? And who wants THAT to be what is on someone’s mind instead of getting the children out?

  54. Donna August 5, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    I think Kimberley gave a great example – something about the PERSON set off an odd meter in the staff and they followed through without a lot of rules. The problem with most of these types of rules is that they give a false sense of security and cause us to ignore our gut. Someone might make you feel off but he has a visitor’s sticker so he must be okay.

    They also tend to do away with our ability to think critically. We become reliant on log books and lists and lose the ability to function without them. Cellphone users – how many of us “older” folks used to know many phone numbers but now can’t recall a single one … and not due to memory decline but due to having all our contacts instantly available at the push of a button? In my pre-cellphone days, I knew all my important numbers by memory. A couple years ago, I got into a car wreck and couldn’t call a single person to come pick us up because I left my cellphone at home and didn’t even know my own mother’s number from memory (for the record I know her home number but not her cell).

    And then comes the situation of a fire and nobody remembers to bring the list. And nobody really remembers who has come and gone because we stopped trying to remember because we had a list. And we don’t know what to do because all our drills involved remembering the book and our critical thinking skills have disappeared as a society so we can’t begin to fathom what to do without the list.

  55. dmd August 5, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    What strikes me as stupid is in our school, you don’t sign in on a sheet – you sign the sticker you wear and it’s not a carbon. So they have no record of who you are.