Any parent who has the luxury of being in the school line (particularly during the beginning weeks of school), knows how chaotic and frustrating these lines can be. There is absolutely no standard between schools on how these car lines are setup and run. So, if you are lucky enough to have to go through more than one of these fun monstrosities you then need to learn two sets of absurd rules for dropping off and picking up your children.
I am one of those “lucky” mammas – my middle two girls in elementary school go two different schools because of their differing exceptionalities and special needs. And each school has very different configurations for their car lines. And from the parent point of view, one seems to work well, the other, needs some work.
I only use the car lines in the morning – I go to Emma’s school first because her school starts a hour before Vivian’s. I bypass the car line and pull up maybe ahead of the carline, far enough that it’s obvious that I’m “cutting” to the front of the line, but parking for a different reason. And because Emma has been known to run off, an IA (Instructional Assistant) will come to the car and get her — the IA also gets a few other ESE students from the buses that are parked not far away. Last year, when I did pick her up in the afternoon, the cars would line up (around the corner and on the side of the road, but hey at least it wasn’t on the road like many schools have problems with), and as you approached the pick-up area, there was a teacher with a microphone who called out the student’s name from your placard. Emma always had an IA with her to ensure she didn’t run off, but she was with the rest of the students (inclusion).
Then I head to Vivian’s school where beginning this year, they actually want us (parents with ESE children who drop off in the morning) to use the car line. I am usually there absurdly early because I drive directly from Emma’s school to Vivian’s school. It doesn’t bother me, it actually gives me a few minutes to catch up on emails, social media, phones, and the like. Given I am so early, I am usually the first one in line. When it’s the appropriate time, a safety patrol helps Vivi out of the car and another dedicated safety patrol walks her to her class to ensure she gets there safely. Which is all good and fine, now, but the first two weeks of this routine was a nightmare.
Day One. The first time, which I was really hesitant about, I told the safety patrol before it was time to get the kids out of car, that Vivian was a special needs student and needed help getting out of the car and needed an adult or a safety patrol who knew who she was to walk her to class. He was seriously confused and ran and asked the school security what to do, who told him to ask the front desk. At the end, the receptionist walked her to class. Oh, dear. I let Vivian’s teacher know through the communication app we use that the safety patrol had no idea what to do. The teacher promised that the next day would be better.
Day Two. As the little girl safety patrol was helping Vivi out of the car, I let her know she was an ESE student and needed to be escorted to class. She looked a little confused but said “ok, yes ma’am.” Hmm, nice manners. I like that. I watched as she helped Vivi onto the sidewalk and spoke to another safety patrol, nodding her head. It looked like a good sign. Vivian’s teacher assured me that she would speak with the Safety Patrol coordinator and ensure all the Safety Patrols were adequately aware of all the ESE students that were care riders and their individual needs.
Day Three. A nice looking little girl opened the door and rushed Vivian out of the car without saying anything, but unfortunately I was on the phone with an important call. It looked like she had a good handle on Vivian, so I drove away. Later I received a message on the app letting me know another parent found Vivian wandering around the car rider area alone. WHAT?!? I was assured and assured again this would not happen again. I freaked out quite a bit, and was upset and angry.
Day Four. Unfortunately I was on the phone with another important phone call (blog post about subject matter soon) Same little girl from the day before helped Vivi out of the car, silently. I thought, hoping their impromptu ‘training?’ helped. She was nicer with Vivian, a bit more helpful, and I felt relieved. Well, until I heard through my cracked passenger window “I need someone to walk it to class.” Excuse me?!? I was livid and that was inexcusable. I spoke to Vivian’s teacher and that particular safety patrol was to never help my child out of the car again and apologized profusely. The safety patrol coordinator now has one particular, very nice little girl help Vivian out of the car by hand, uses her name, and is very, very nice, kind, and patient with Vivian and walks her to class. It’s a shame it took all that to get to this very helpful, responsible little girl I am thankful for.