High school students scoff at rule requiring bathroom escorts

Forget hall passes. According to students at Coral Springs High, going to the bathroom during class now requires an escort from a security guard.

Rolled out this semester to reduce disruptions and keep the school safe, the new procedure has drawn the ire of some students and parents. An online, student-created petition asking the principal to “give students more freedom” and get rid of the security escort rule had collected more than 500 signatures by Friday.

“As a young adult trying to prepare myself (for) the future, I don’t see how having an escort to the bathroom will help in any way, shape or form,” student Amanda Manning wrote above her name. “I’m not a 4-year-old and I don’t need an adult to hold my hand as I’m walking to the bathroom.”

Administrators were vague about the new regulations, with Principal Susan Leon-Leigh referring questions to the Broward County School District’s communications office. District representatives acknowledged that changes were made to the hall pass system after winter break but did not go into specifics. Teachers declined to comment.

In an email and robocall to parents, Assistant Vice Principal Michael Marhefka said additional measures were being put in place to “reduce any possible disruption to the learning environment.” He said student pick-ups would be limited to breaks between classes and time out of class would be closely monitored to “ensure that students are engaged in class for the entire class period.”

“This is an effort to provide and maintain a safe learning environment for all students and staff, with a focus on students spending more time in the classroom engaged in learning activities and instruction,” district spokeswoman Tracy Clark said.

Asked about the petition, she said the school supports and encourages student input in establishing guidelines that affect them.

Kristyn Ashby, a 17-year-old senior, said she and her classmates were stunned when the rules were announced over the school intercom.

“I thought it was ridiculous,” she said. “I felt like we were in prison now.”

Several students made similar comments, taking to Twitter with jokes like “Coral Springs High School, or as the students like to call it, prison.” Another suggested someone “take one for the team” and wet their pants.

Students said the new rule has led to long lines outside the bathroom during the six minutes they have in between classes, meaning they could be late to the next period. And, they said, the school doesn’t have enough security guards to accommodate everyone who needs to go during class.

Ashby said one of her teachers ended up taking a student to the bathroom herself, believing it’d be faster. The one time she tried getting a security escort to the bathroom, no one came.

“It’s caused more problems than it’s helped,” she said.

Some parents, too, are miffed. They said they appreciated the effort to keep students safe – especially after a few recent fights – but felt the bathroom rule misfired.

“It sounds like a policy for elementary school kids, not high school kids,” said Nicole DiLaura, who has two stepsons at the school. “We understand why the administration put it in place, but it’s a bad policy.”

Kim Ashby, Kristyn’s mom, questioned the message the rule sends to students.

“They want them to be independent and responsible,” she said, “but they don’t think they’re responsible enough to go to the restroom and come back to class.”

bshammas@sunsentinel.com, 954-356-4528 or Twitter @britsham

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-school-bathroom-rule-petition-20160125-story.html

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