Parents trust the schools to take care of their children when they drop them off at the door or put them on the school bus in the morning. But stories surfacing the last few weeks paint a terrible picture of what is happening to kindergartners in at least a few public schools across the country.
My own son was in kindergarten when a breach of trust caused me to fear for his safety. My 6-year-old was dropped off several blocks from our home by a bus driver who denied any responsibility for the incident. Thankfully, he was found safely, but I never fully trusted the school to watch out for my children after that day. Our incident pales in comparison to the horror stories below. Read these stories, and ask yourself how well you know the people in charge of your children. Are your children safe at school?
Taken to jail without permission
When 6-year-old Stephen Stovall went to school one Monday, he had a signed permission slip to go on a field trip to the local library. However, instead of going to the library, administrators at Sunnyside Elementary outside of Chicago decided to take the kids to the jail instead.
At the jail, students were placed behind bars in a holding area that Stephen described as a cell. Jail personnel claim the children were not locked inside an actual cell, but to a 6-year-old, being closed in behind bars is the same thing. Stephen's family is most concerned that the school did not ask for parental consent before taking the kindergartners off campus to an unauthorized location. They've dealt with Stephen's fear and anxiety since the trip. The principal of the school and the superintendent of the district have refused to comment.
Forced to sit in feces
In an act many would describe as completely inhumane, Lisa Skidmore's 6-year-old daughter was denied access to the bathroom and forced to sit in feces at Southwest Elementary in Washburn, Missouri. The reason for this torture; her teacher wanted to simulate the testing environment that would be required when her kindergarten class reached third grade. Although the kindergartners were only taking practice tests, the teacher prioritized standardized test guidelines over a student in need.
When Skidmore's little girl could no longer wait, she had an accident. Diarrhea filled her pants and went up her back and down her legs. Amazingly, she was still not allowed to leave the class and her mother was not called until 15 minutes later, when the test was finally over. She was then given a trash bag to sit on while she waited another 20 minutes for her mom to get to the school. At least in this case, the superintendent did issue an apology.
Molested and abused
In Waco, Texas, a kindergarten teacher admitted sexually abusing three students in his class in 2009. He was sentenced last month to a term of five years, to be followed by deportation back to Mexico. Another teacher was arrested in Redwood City, California in February for physically abusing special needs preschoolers. And in New York last year, Yenny Valero filed suit against the public school where her 5-year-old son was allegedly sexually attacked by four other kindergarten boys. These nightmares are rare, but they happen.
Many little kids face hardship at school every day, from bullying on the playground to being denied bathroom breaks until they wet their pants. I recently wrote an article about how kids in elementary school are often given less than 10 minutes to eat lunch even though the USDA recommends at least 20 minutes for meal time. The difficulty my daughter had getting an adequate nutritious meal at school was one of the factors that led our family to homeschool.
If you have kids in school, it is important that you get involved and stay involved beyond the morning bus stop. You need to have a presence at the school and know what is going on, whether the school wants you there or not. Our kids' elementary school would not allow parents to visit the classrooms without an appointment and frowned on parents coming any further into the school than the front office and the cafeteria. Parents should have a right to visit classrooms, volunteer around the school, and get to know the teachers and staff. If your children are in a school that has a "No Parents Allowed" atmosphere, work to change it. Only you can make sure your children are safe and happy at school.
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