Bear Branch Elementary School in Magnolia is getting national attention this week because of its afternoon dismissal procedure which one media outlet says bans parents from walking to school and charges those who do with trespassing. The Magnolia Independent School District is saying the rumors spreading on local television and social media are not true.
Houston’s FOX26 reported students are leaving the school because of the policy which is causing all students to take the bus or have parents wait in line for an hour to pick them up.
The policy sent to parents from principal Holly Ray said that students will not be dismissed to the front sidewalk of the school and asks that parents picking up children to remain in their vehicle. Citing safety reasons, the letter said that parents will no longer be allowed to walk to the front of the school to retrieve children on foot. (See the full letter to parents in the link: BBESCarRiderLetter).
One parent, Wendy Jarmon, told the news station that parents are being threatened with arrest. She said she has removed her children from Bear Branch because of the policy.
In a letter to Bear Branch parents, district superintendent Dr. Todd Stephens, said this week, the story of the school’s afternoon dismissal procedures has returned to the spotlight with rumors of the district arresting parents, teacher resigning from the school and students being withdrawn. Stephens said the purpose of his letter, issued Wednesday, was to communicate facts and dispel rumors.
Stephens said no parent has been arrested for wanting to pick up their child and walk home. In the letter, Stephens said that a couple of parents have received letters from the district delivered by the county constable’s office reminding them of the policy as “their actions were deliberately disrupting the end of day release process.”
He said law enforcement became involved last fall because one parent (who was not named in the letter) disrupted the school day, verbally harassing and physically threatening a staff member in front of both students and other staffers. He added the Magnolia ISD does not tolerate that type of unruly behavior that creates an environment of fear for staff and threatens the safety of students. That parent was not charged with a crime but was issued a trespass warning not allowing them to return to campus for the remainder of the year.
Stephens said that the enrollment numbers at the school are 650 students and added the school has seen a two percent increase in enrollment in the 2015-2016 school year. He added that of the 12 withdrawals from Bear Branch, six were prior to the beginning of the school year, two were unrelated and four are directly related to the change in policy.
Read Stephens’ full letter here: bbes.magnoliaisd.org/apps/news/article/562313.