Monday, August 27, 2012

Public School holds children hostage



My son cried as he got of the car today. He said his tummy hurt and asked his dad for our phone numbers in case he needed to call. Sam suffers from abdominal migraines, so at 10:30am I decided to drive up to the school to pick him up.

I arrived in the front office, said hello to the receptionist and told her I’d like to pick my son up from school. She called the teacher and asked, “How is Sam feeling?” She hung up the phone and said to me, “He’s fine,” and turned in her chair and continued about her work.

Slightly taken aback, I said, “I’d like to pick him up anyway because I know he wouldn’t tell the teacher if he wasn’t feeling well.”

She looked at me and gave me a flat, “No.”

“No? B-but I’m his mother.” I stammered.

“There is a tornado warning so we won’t let you have him.”


Those words echoed around in my head and I could feel the bile rise up in my stomach. The protective instinct in a mother is strong. I knew my son needed me and I wanted him NOW.

“I can’t pick my son up because of a tornado warning? Is it a warning or a watch?”

“It’s a warning, that’s why they won’t let the kids out of the classroom.” She again dismissed me without further explanation.

Deep breath, Shannon…

“How long is the tornado warning in effect?”

“Until 11:30 or so.”

She picked up the walkie talkie and squawked into it. She was through with me. She didn’t even glance up at me, a bewildered mother, standing at the counter.

With shaking hands, I picked up my umbrella and walked out of the office. It took every ounce of control to stay calm.

Being told I was not allowed to have my child incited a bolt of panic in me. I am HIS MOTHER, for crying out loud. I make the decisions for him. I decide if he is too sick to stay in school. I decide if the weather is too poor for my child to venture outdoors. I am the ultimate authority regarding his health and well being. I’ll be damned if a dismissive woman is going to tell me I can’t have my kid!

I sat in my car and tried to steady my shaking hands. I took several deep breaths and picked up my iPhone to check the weather. The tornado warning expired at 11:14am. I sat in the parking lot of my child’s school, watching the clock and watching children line up outside under the breezeway. The time was 11:12am. The weather conditions were so treacherous that a mother was not allowed to take her child home, yet twenty students lined up outside for lunch. Unbelievable.

How could this be? How could I be denied access to my own kid and watch an obvious breach of policy right outside the office doors?

I understand there are county-wide policies regarding poor weather conditions. I don’t agree with them necessarily, but I know better than to argue my point with the receptionist at the school office. I understand that if I feel strongly against the school policy, I can take it up with the school board or send my kid to private school. I get that.

What I DON’T get is the dismissive treatment I received in the school office today. My child is a first grader, so it is not far-fetched to believe that I may not be apprised of the weather policy. I may not be aware that certain weather conditions keep the school from releasing the child to their parent. (Whether or not I agree with such a policy is irrelevant at this point.)

I DON’T get how this person can refuse me access to my child and dismiss me like an unruly adolescent. I wasn’t offered an explanation or an alternative solution. No parent deserves to be treated like that. I did not drive to the school to ASK PERMISSION to see my child. I did not ask the receptionist to assess my child’s wellbeing via a 10-second conversation over the intercom. I came to take my child home. I am his mother. It is my right.

I waited until the tornado warning had passed, I collected myself and I walked back into the office. I approached the counter, set my driver’s license down and said, “I’m here to pick up my son.”

I received several sideways glances and was told to have a seat. A few minutes later, the receptionist walked around the corner and called from the hallway, “Here’s your son, but he can’t have his backpack. It’s raining too bad to have two other students walk the hallways with him.”

Sam came to me and started crying. He didn’t feel well.

The administrators would not allow me to walk my child to his classroom to get his backpack. I am registered with the county and I frequently volunteer my time at this school. Sam has homework due tomorrow. Unbelievable. Again.

I put my arm around my crying son and walked to the car. I did not press the issue in front of Sam. I just wanted to get him home. Home, where he belongs when he isn’t feeling well.

I am livid.


Lesley Gardner said...
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