One Texas elementary school is coming under fire after the principal banned parents from walking their children to and from school, and who is threatening parents with arrest.
The trouble began in September when the principal at Bear Branch Elementary School in Magnolia, Texas, decided to implement a policy that not just discourages but prohibits parents from walking their children home from school or walking inside the school to retrieve their children after parents had parked their cars, according to KPRC-TV.
Parents began expressing their frustration because of the inconvenience they said they felt waiting for almost an hour in their cars. Parents were asked pick up their children only in the school's winding pick-up lane after school.
"People start lining up here about 2:30 p.m. for a 3:25 p.m. dismissal," parent Jeff Wendinger had told KPRC.
Parent Jackie McConnell say's she's frustrated, too: "It's a ridiculous situation for everyone."
But now some people are expressing outrage because the principal has threatened parents who persist in walking their children home from school with charges for trespassing or other criminal charges, according to KRIV-TV. Parents have also begun pulling their kids from school over the issue.
"She's threatening to arrest people," mother Wendy Jarman told KRIV about the school's principal, Holly Ray, before adding that she has pulled her children out of the school. "This has happened to many parents. They have been cited. They have been threatened, if they step one foot on school property, they will be arrested and charged with who knows what."
But the school will not allow parents within walking distance of the school to escort them home until after the car line diminishes, and Ray reportedly has gotten Montgomery County Constables to aid in enforcing the policy. The Magnolia Independent School District also issued a statement to clear up some of the "rumors" surrounding the new policy while declaring that the policy was meant to ensure a "safe dismissal process."
"Our first priority at Bear Branch Elementary is to create a safe, nurturing learning environment for your child," the Wednesday statement read. "With the support of the majority of our parents, the pick-up has been running more efficiently as we are able to dismiss car riders within 30 minutes and dismiss walkers at 3:50 or sooner as the drive line diminishes."
But many of the parents took issue with the fact that neither Ray nor the school district showed a willingness to negotiate with the hundreds of people who signed a petition to change the policy, calling it "bully tactics" to make walking parents wait for long periods of time before escorting their children home. Parent Frank Young, who also received a warning for escorting his children home on foot, ultimately pulled his kids out of the school.
"Mrs. Ray's policy is implying that a parent doesn't have the ability or capability to decide what is safest for their children and that the school district does," Young told KRIV. "I disagree."
Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter
Front-page image via Shutterstock