Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 20, 2013

Local parent questions Mercer BOE’s 30-minute rule

GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — A parent has questioned whether she and other parents should be banned from picking up their children during the last 30 minutes Mercer County’s school day.

One Lerona parent, 38-year-old Lisa Shrewsbury, said she has tried to persuade the Mercer County Board of Education to revise or drop a policy that bars parents from getting early dismissals for their children during the last half hour of the day. She said Tuesday that she made this request after not being permitted to pick up her child from PikeView Middle School. He had been scheduled for a doctor’s appointment.

Shrewsbury said she had scheduled the appointment later in the afternoon to make sure he did not miss a whole day of class.

“My choice that day was an 8:30 (a.m.) appointment that would have him out of school for three hours or a 3:30 (p.m.) appointment that would have had him out for 15 minutes,” she recalled.

Parents should be able to get their children dismissed from school when they need to do so, she said.

“Well, I would like to change the 30-minute rule. I just don’t believe they can deny me access to my child,” Shrewsbury stated. “I want them (board of education) to do away with it. I have no problem if the school requests that we don’t pick them up, but to flat out say we can’t pick them up is not right.”

Assistant Superintendent Rick Ball the policy dealing with early dismissals during the last 30 minutes is part the school system’s attendance policy, J-10. This policy can be read on the Mercer County Board of Education’s web site.

“It outlines the procedures for early dismissal, and basically if a student needs to be dismissed for a doctor or dentist appointment, they are to bring the appointment card or a note from the parents to the (school’s) office the morning of the appointment,” Ball said.

Dismissals are not granted during the last 30 minutes of the instructional day, but they may be authorized at the discretion of the principal if there is an emergency situation, Ball said. The policy has been in place for several years.

“This policy came about purely for safety reasons,” he said. “What was happening, and this was an issue literally all over the county, was that parents would come in early to pick up their kids at the end of the day to beat the buses.”

Sometimes the parents would get leave the school in time and get caught up in traffic jams when the school buses arrived. Another problem was class disruption, Ball said. Teachers had to be contacted so a student being dismissed could go to the office.

“It was very much a disruption of the school day, and our school days really are not that long,” Ball said.

Parents can schedule appointments during the school day so long as they are outside the last 30 minutes, he said.

“Most parents nowadays are familiar with the policy and they just schedule accordingly,” Ball stated. “And it seems to be a policy that people are accustomed to.”