School Legal Issue Plan
The safety and security of the students are a major concern for our schools; especially elementary campuses. The dismissal routine at Cook elementary school is in need of revamping to a higher level of security. Each campus principal makes the decision on the dismissal procedure. Across the nation, there are numerous students who are mistakenly handed over to the wrong parent or adult or just simply come up missing from their school campus. In recent years, there have been several incidents in which the students were either handed over to the wrong person, or left the school without the staff knowing how they left.
The safety of the students during dismissal should be a concerned just like it is during the instructional time of the school day. The current dismissal is the bus riders are dismissed and are expected to meet the assigned staff member at the end of the hall. Shortly after the bus riders depart, the walkers are to lineup and report to the multi-purpose room to be released. Finally, the car riders are escorted by their homeroom teacher to north side of the building where parents are able to drive-up to pick up their child(ren). Some parents have car rider numbers and some just ask for the students by name. Often times this routine is quite chaotic; especially when there is inclement weather.
There have been a couple of times in which parents inquire as to how their child was released from school. Either the parent forgot to send a note or the student forgot to give it to teacher or front office. When a parent/guardian calls to check on how their child left for the day, there should be a better way to inform the parent/guardian that the child either rode a bus, walked, or was picked up via car. In 2010, at a Dallas elementary school, a kindergarten student was handed over to the wrong adult, but the incident ended well because the person returned to the school with the child. This current school year, a little girl left with one of her classmate’s mother without permission from the parents.
These events cause panic among the families as well as cost the cities and counties money because of police involvement. Although I would rather have a false alarm, than to not contact authority and have a bigger issue on hand. In light of these events, extra security measures should be implemented in an effort to avoid such incidents. This requires the involvement of all administrators, teachers, and staff to do their part to ensure safe return of all students to their homes at the end of the school day. This unit will explain in detail procedures that can be implemented to avoid handing a student to the wrong person. Suggested dismissal procedure implementation plan:
- Notification of dismissal routine
- Color code each grade level
- Each student is assigned a dismissal ticket number.
- Exit ticket and bags
- Car rider numbers
- Teacher creates a spreadsheet identifying students dismissal routine
- Stages of dismissal
- Exit tickets
- 2nd and 3rd notification to parents, students, and staff of the new dismissal procedure. PTO
- Effective date
Notification of change in dismissal routine
A week before the change in the dismissal routine, parents/guardians will receive notice of the upcoming change as well as a form to complete stating how their child(ren) are to be dismissed from school. The notice will clearly state that although the child(ren) may be designated as a bus rider or walker, he or she will still receive an assigned number for dismissal. The notice will also state that whenever there is a change in how the student is to leave school, a written note signed by parent/guardian must be sent to the school.
Color code each grade level
Each grade level will be assigned a specific color in an effort to quickly identify the grade level of students at the end of the day. There are times when dismissal is chaotic and if the students have their dismissal tickets
in hand, staff members can easily identify where the student belongs if he or she becomes separated from the class. In addition, the dismissal areas will be color coded for the assigned grade levels to wait for their dismissal.
Dismissal ticket numbers
Each student will be assigned a dismissal number which will be tied to that student’s name. Regardless of the number of siblings attending the same school, each will have his or her own number. The reasoning to avoid assigning one dismissal number for each family is because there could be a family member absent that day and it would be hard to track if there is one or two or more members per family as well as which student is absent. It is much safer for each student to have his or her own number because it is easier to account for that student.
These assigned numbers, which will be color coded based on grade level along with the student’s assigned homeroom teacher’s first initial and last name becomes that student’s exit ticket. Placing the teacher’s name on the student’s assigned number makes it quicker to track the student’s movement. As the student leaves school for the day, he or she will place their exit ticket in the appropriate exit bag.
Car rider numbers
There will be two sets of numbers, one index card size for the students as an exit ticket and one letter paper size to be given to parents to identify which student he or she is picking up by placing the number in the front window. The color code will identify the grade level and the number identifies the student. The parents must display this number in their window when picking up their child(ren).
Exit tickets and bags
The color coded assigned numbers will serve as the student’s exit from school. These tickets are laminated to withstand long-term usage. There will be an exit bag for each method of dismissal; early departure, bus dismissal, walkers, and car riders. A designated staff member will collect the exit tickets as the students depart. The next school day, the tickets are separated by designated staff and returned to the teachers.
The teacher for each class room will create a spreadsheet identifying how
each student goes home at the end of the day. The spreadsheet should include: bus riders, walkers, and car riders. In the event the teacher is absent, the spreadsheet is visibly posted for a substitute to know how the students are dismissed.
Stages of dismissal
The bell will continue to be the signal for the end of the school day. The students will be dismissed by the way they go home. The bus riders, which include district, private, and day care buses, will be dismissed first. These students will be escorted and supervised by designated staff members. As each student departs, each will drop his or her exit ticket into the exit bag. After about 5 minutes, the walkers will be escorted by assigned staff and released at the appointed doors(s). After giving the walkers about 5 minutes to depart, the car riders will be escorted to the designated pick-up zone to release students to parents. The teachers will carry their spreadsheet with them which indicates the students’ dismissal numbers. As the teachers and other staff members escort the students to their vehicles he/she will collect the students’ exit tickets to be placed in the exit bag for car riders.
Notification of new dismissal routine
Upon the onset of working on the new dismissal routine, the parents will receive a newsletter from the school notifying them of the upcoming change. A week before the implementation of the new routine another newsletter is sent home stating the date the change will take effect. The final notice of the change will be issued on a Friday before the Monday the new routine becomes official. The parents will receive notification of the upcoming change at least 3 times in an effort to prepare them for the change. In addition, the teachers will prepare the students for the change in the dismissal routine to help them transition as smoothly as possible.
The members of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) will play a very important role of getting the word out to parents/guardians of the new dismissal routine. The PTO will help to address any concerns or questions related to the new dismissal routine. In addition, whenever possible, the PTO will help in separating and returning the exit tickets to the designated teachers.
The effective date for the new dismissal routine should take place on a Monday. This will allow parents/guardians to make the necessary adjustments in their routines. In addition, with proper notification the parents/guardians will have time to pose any questions or concerns they may have with the administration.
The implementation of the new dismissal routine should prove to be a less stressful way to monitor and know how each student leaves the campus. The teacher for each homeroom is responsible for ensuring his/her students are dismissed as requested by the parents. In addition, the teachers should ensure there is a form returned for each student in their homeroom.
In conclusion, whereas this may not be a perfect plan, it will provide some extra security measures in helping the students to depart the school as the parents/guardians desire as well as provide a checkpoint to quickly determine how a student left campus during dismissal. There may be some confusion the first couple of days, but that is to be expected. However, if the plan is followed as set, the kinks will work themselves out. What is most important is the security and protection of our students.