MAGNOLIA, Texas – Parents are removing their children from Bear Branch Elementary School after the principal allegedly banned them from school grounds and threatened violators with arrest.
Parents told Fox 26 that Bear Branch principal Holly Ray instituted a new policy at the beginning of the year that banned parents from walking their students to or from the school building, forcing them to either wait in a long car line or put their kids on the bus.
“She’s threatening to arrest people,” parent Wendy Jarman said.
Jarman told Fox 26 she used to escort her children to school, but Ray’s decision to ban the practice and Montgomery County Constables who are enforcing the principal’s decree convinced her to transfer her kids to private school.
“This has happened to many parents,” Jarman said. “They have been cited. They have been threatened, if they step one foot on school property, they will be arrested and charged with who knows what.”
Other parents told KPRC the wait time to pick students up by vehicle is ridiculous.
“People start lining up here about 2:30 p.m. for a 3:25 p.m. dismissal,” Jeff Wendinger said.
Frank Young, another parent who lives in the neighborhood, also removed his children from Bear Branch after receiving threats from officials. He said parents tried to discuss a better policy with administrators, and submitted hundreds of signatures to petition the school district, but the restrictive policy remains.
“Mrs. Ray’s policy is implying that a parent doesn’t have the ability or capability to decide what is safest for their children and that the school district does,” Young said. “I disagree.”
“It used to be much easier” to retrieve kids after school, grandparent Donna Bayer told KPRC. “I could walk up and get her and put her in the car. I didn’t have to get in this line.”
“This is my seventh year here and we’ve never had an issue with it, ever,” Lea Drake said. “Now, it’s just taking a long time and it’s very inconvenient to the parents.”
District officials issued a prepared statement to Fox 26 about the situation that supported Ray’s supposed goal of a safe dismissal.
The news site reports several other parents who did not want to be identified have also been threatened with arrest for walking their children to school.
Parents said they do not believe the old dismissal process was unsafe, and believe the principal is on a power trip.
Young told the news site some parents are simply complying with the principal’s demands, but he believes that sends the wrong message to students.
“The most toxic thing we can do for our kids is not fight for truth and justice,” Young said.
Others at the school told Fox 26 teachers are also leaving over the principal’s management style.