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Childrearing

School Threatens To Sic CPS On Parents Who Pick Their Kids Up Late

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School Threatens To Sic CPS On Parents Who Pick Their Kids Up Late middle school building front 280x186 jpgBeing late is pretty rude. We all know a person who is 15 minutes late to every event. Heck, I used to be that person, until it started happening to me and I realized how much it sucks to be standing around waiting for someone who doesn’t seem to care that they’re wasting your time and forcing you to stand around and wait for them. Everyone gets stuck in traffic from time to time, but always being late to everything is kind of a jerk thing to do to one’s friends, and it’s especially unkind to do it to teachers. Teachers and school staff want to go home at the end of the day just as badly as you do, and it’s not fair to make them stand around and wait for you. That said, threatening to call Child Protective Services on parents who are late picking their kids up is batshit insane, but one school did it anyway.

According to Yahoo Parenting, the Swegle Elementary School in Salem, Oregon, sent a letter home with parents advising them about policies for the upcoming school year, and one paragraph began: “Children must be picked up on time. If they are not picked up on time, we will call DHS [Department of Human Services] and you will then have to pick them up at court the next day.”

Uh, what? That is just flat-out crazy. I can only hope it is an empty threat, because sending children to DHS overnight because their parents were late picking them up to school sounds like the sort of thing that would traumatize a kid.

Parents were understandably incensed by the threat.

“My heart kind of skipped a beat a little bit, it’s pretty scary,” said Chelsea Eichenauer, whose 5-year-old attends the school.

After the parental uproar, the school issued an apology and said the letter had been sent without the review of the principal and that it went too far.

“The school office staff sent the letter out without review and approval from the principal. The letter contained information on a variety of topics for next school year. It also included a statement about calling DHS if the parents were late picking the kids up. This was not the right message,” said communications director Jay Remy in an interview with Yahoo Parenting. “It should have said that parents should call the school if they will be late picking up their kids. If a parent calls and says they have car trouble or something, there is no problem. The school staff will supervise their child until someone picks them up. The scenario of calling DHS would only come into play in extreme cases, when the parents are not in contact with the school and the child has nowhere to go when the school staff need to go home to their own families in the evening.”

Still, that threat was not OK. Parents said they weren’t even sure what it meant — would the school call DHS on them if they were five minutes late? 10? Would they do it only to the chronically late, or could you lose your kids if you got stuck in traffic one day? The threat raises a number of scary scenarios and parents were not pleased.

The threat was certainly extreme, but parents need to respect teachers’ time and not use them as free babysitters. Being regularly late without calling is not fair and it’s very rude. Those parents wouldn’t like it if it happened to them.

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