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Do School Guards Really Protect Anyone?
Filed under: Opinions
It's the night of the dance school recital. The performances are over, a few kids are still on stage, receiving awards. The mom picks up her daughters and is about to head out when the school guard stops them:
No parents are allowed to take their kids home from the recital before it's over unless they present a note pre-signed by the teacher.
"But the recital is over," says the mom.
Not officially, says the guard, who prevents them from leaving.
More and more parents arrive at the guard's desk, more and more are told they can't leave without notes, until finally the guard goes to check with a higher up. At which point, you'll be shocked to learn: Everyone hightails it outta there.
Now, I am keenly aware that guards are not free to interpret rules they find ridiculous. But maybe it's time for that to change. Let guards use their common sense and our kids won't be any less safe, and we adults will not have steam pouring out of our ears.
At the public schools my kids have attended here in New York City, all visitors are required to show a photo ID and sign a register before they're allowed to enter.
Uh ... why? What possible safety purpose can this really serve? If I blow up the gym, are the authorities going to go back and check the registry: "Oh! It was her!"
If I'm a fugitive on the lam, are our policy makers just hoping my name will ring a bell with the guard so she won't let me in? "Billy the Kid, Billy the Kid. Where have I heard that name before?"
Because it's not like anyone is looking our names up anywhere. The guards are just looking at the I.D. and asking for a signature. Every time. Even if they know us. Even if it's scary, middle-aged mom me, coming to drop off cupcakes. They see the cupcakes. But everyone is treated like a terrifying stranger.
At the same time, many schools now DO electronically look up the name of every visitor, as if fiends would otherwise be running in and out all day: "I'm just going to grab a few victims and be on my way." This leads to situations like the one I heard of in Texas where a woman who came to her daughter's kindergarten Christmas party was not allowed in. The reason?
The results of her criminal background check had yet to arrive.
The mom begged, "Please!" and finally the school relented -- on the condition that she stand at the back of the classroom and not interact with any of the children.
As if common sense -- LET THE MOM ENJOY THE PARTY! -- is too dangerous.
Yes, there are cases when a noncustodial parent presents a problem and the school should be made aware of those particular situations. But when guards are instructed to treat every parent as a potential criminal, our schools become no safer.
Just a lot less welcoming.
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