J.L. asks from Chino Hills, CA on February 02, 2012
So we just moved and my daughter started a new school. Its not the best school. They are failing state standards and have been for 5 years. So we have the option to move schools which we are trying to do. Now this may or may not be related but last night at 1045pm I received a phone call from the school. it was a recording from the principal. She sounded a little scared. A boy (3rd grade) had not made it home from school. If you had any info on where he might be please call city police. What? I have to say I was a little freaked out. That is terrifying. I drop my daughter off for school and watch her walk in passed the gate. Parents are not allowed to go any further. My husband picks her up at the gate. Do I call the school and ask if he was found and what the situation might have been? I don't want to pry but at the same time knowing the situation might help me stop freaking out. Not knowing the situation I question the safety of the school. Any advice? my daughter is in first grade.
So What Happened?™
So I did call the school and it was busy for a little while. Guess I am not the only one. The boy was found. He went somewhere he was not supposed to and it took time. I do question whether I got my call after he was found or not. Depends on the list order I guess. They did tell me there was no foul play or anything. It was the child's decision. So that makes me feel at least a little better. I think after the dust has settled I will put a call into the principal suggesting that when the problem is resolved like this (hopefully it is not regular or does not have to happen again) that a second set of calls is placed. So parents can be releived. Also just to clarify. Parents are not abllowed passed the gate if they do not register at the office. So that is for safety too. To keep track of who is on campus. Thanks for the imput/advice. Hopefully we will hear from the district about a transfer soon.
E.T. answers from Albuquerque on February 02, 2012
That's horrible that the little boy is lost. Hopefully he's home safe and sound by now. To answer your question - no, I would not call the school. They're trying to deal with a missing child and ensuring that all the other kids stay safe and have a regular classroom day today. They're not equipped to deal with 200 parents wanting to get personal updates. Check your local newpaper's website to see if they have any details.
And about the freaking out... you are already doing everything you need to do to keep your daughter safe. If the boy was abducted from the school building, you'd better beleive the message from the principal would have been different. Unfortunately, he may have been a walker who got lost on the way home... and that doesn't really have any bearing on your daughter's safety.
H.M. answers from Dallas on February 02, 2012
I would defenently move my child if they don't let you past a gate. They should never tell you that you can not come into the school unless you are a child preditor. Our school has a computer program that they can scan DL's that shows criminal records so they know who to and not to let into the school. They should never tell all parents they have to stay at a gate. As for the boy, if it's going to put your mind at ease I would call and say I know you may not be able to give me a lot of info but can you please let me know if he is ok.
Good luck and God Bless!
M.P. answers from Minneapolis on February 02, 2012
holy buckets, I'd be all over that. Its not prying its CONCERN... please do call, it might not directly affect your child, and what do you mean that your not allowed past a gate? how, do you give them somthing if you forget... take your child out now and find a school that cares for their children at least 5 times better.
If a principle calls and leaves a message with parents about a child that didnt come home, it was not a walker that got lost. ITs more serious than that. Who lets a 3rd grader walk home alone.... and if a principle calls families then they better be equipped to take calls... if not thats ridiculous.
T.F. answers from Dallas on February 02, 2012
I would be more concerned that a school is not open for parents to come in. Of course, security is an issue and that is why everyone is screened when they go into the schools here. You run your driver license through a machine and get a visitor sticker that must be worn at all times while you are in the building.
I am not a huge fan of parents walking children to class, etc. As a sub that gets old because I have a couple of parents who just hang out in the room past announcements and pledge. It is the helicopter ones who help with morning work, etc but it does distract the children who are more independent.
That said, I think parents should feel welcomed by the school staff and teachers. Parents have a lot to offer and to be told you can't come past a certain point sounds like it is not a safe area.
L.R. answers from Washington DC on February 02, 2012
I'm glad the boy was OK and I bet his parents are having some very strict talks with him....
On the topic of not being allowed to go past a certain point when dropping off a child: Several people who posted disliked that, and said it was a problem to them, etc.
But it's very standard procedure in every school in our huge school system and I bet that if the people who posted will check, they will find it's a policy in their (public) schools as well.
It isn't a "gate" that is the barrier in our case, it's the front office, and the policy is: If a parent (or any other adult, including the school system's own personnel such as repair people) wants to enter the building for ANY reason, that adult must stop at the office to check in and say why they are there in the school. You have to sign in on a computer that is devoted just to this purpose, and it would flag you and tell you to see the secretaries (who are sitting right by that check-in computer) if you were not on the school's list to pick up your child, for instance. Then when you've checked in, you must print out a label from that system, with your name and destination (classroom, library, computer lab, etc.) printed on it. Then you're free to go where you need to go inside the building.
The idea here is to keep kids safe and the school running smoothly. No one, not even parents, should be able to enter a school building and roam at will without going through some form of identification and "gatekeeping." If parents can enter the building at will and go directly to wherever they like, they could turn up during a lesson, disrupt a class, whatever. And there are safety issues even with parents just turning up -- what if Johnny's dad, who does not have custody but intends to remove him from school and take him out of state unknown to mom, turns up at the classroom door even though he's not on the list of people permitted to pick up Johnny at all?
In your particular case, J., it sounds like there are many academic issues with the school and that alone would be reason to find another school as you are wisely doing. If your current school does allow adults, including parents, in after a formal check-in procedure and with permission, I would not worry about the physical security so much at this point.
By the way, I am at my child's school very frequently (at least twice a week and often more times) and check in through the office with zero problems. But I know that if I strolled in some side door and was in a hallway with no sticker on my shirt, I would be stopped and politely asked by any teacher where I'm going and why I'm there. And I have no problem with that!
A.V. answers from Washington DC on February 02, 2012
I would call them and ask about it. How they handled the situation would tell me if I needed to look for another school option. If they have the option to robocall parents, they can also send out updates. The staff might be overwhelmed but they might also have an answer ready for you. When my SD was under lockdown, we certainly called the school! We found out that in her case it was a safety measure b/c the cops were looking for someone in that area, but wasn't last seen near the campus. They were just being cautious.
I'm curious about the gate thing. What is the purpose there and how do they handle students entering the school and being sure they actually get in to class? Or can you see her get into the building?
M.M. answers from Detroit on February 02, 2012
Call the office and ask. That *is* scary and I would want to know (a) the outcome, (b) the reason for the boy going missing (maybe it really wasn't the school's fault), and (c) what they plan to change to make sure it doesn't happen again.