MELBOURNE, Australia – Some teachers at Australia’s Bellbridge Primary School were fining students for using the bathroom as part of its ‘earn and learn’ program designed to teach them the value of money.
The scheme, of course, turned parents irate, the Herald Sun reports.
“It’s their basic needs,” said Elsa Walker, the mother of a third-grader who was held back at lunch as penalty for using the restroom during class time. “They get fined, they lose their money, which they save for special things.
“Some of them have been known to wet themselves.”
The “fines” were paid in fake currency, and applied to students who use the restroom “too much” during class time. Students were forced to write the times they went to the restroom in front of the class, along with the duration of their stay, News 7 reports.
Lauren Henderson, 11, was fined $50 for taking too many bathroom breaks, and her mother thinks it’s absurd.
“There will always be kids who use the toilet as an excuse to get out of work,” she said, “but they’re the kids who should be targets, not the whole class.”
Bellbridge principal Debbie Clancy halted the bathroom fines after a parent complained, and assured parents that students are free to use the facilities whenever they feel the need, according to News 7.
“Of course, our students are free to go to the toilet whenever they need – and we would never stop a child from going to the toilet during class time, or penalize them for doing so,” Clancy said.
“A small number of classes have deducted points earned in the ‘earn and learn’ system as a way to discourage children from using the toilet during class time,” she continued. “As this does not fit in with our positive approach, this no longer occurs at our school.”
Stuart Teather, spokesman for the country’s Department of Education and Training, said schools must always provide students with access to restroom facilities.
“The department will work with Bellbridge PS on implementing effective, positive techniques to encourage children to use the toilets during their breaks where possible,” he told the Herald Sun.
Those who commented about the issue online expressed mixed opinions.
“It is obvious that the principal of this school had no idea what is happening in the classrooms,” Penny posted to the Herald Sun.
“The kids will learn to go to the toilets in their breaks and the teachers can tell which kids … need to go to the toilet and the ones that use it as an excuse to get out of work,” Madelynn wrote.
“As adults in the workplace we aren’t ‘fined’ for going to the toilet. Actually that would against most Enterprise agreements and legislation, so why should our children be different,” Martin wrote. “For God sake we have lost the plot people, if a kid needs to use the toilet let them!”
“Why is this news? It appears that these parents want media attention. I’m appalled that they would contact the press over something so minute. There are always bigger issues to address. This situation could have been remedied with a simple call to the principal and if she could not assist then her superior. There is no way that this merits news coverage,” Karen wrote.
“I admit when I dropped my daughter off at school this morning I was curious but when I saw why I nearly wet my own pants laughing at the stupidity of the parents calling the press and the news station covering such a ludicrous story. And I don’t usually comment on news articles but I just had to. These parents should be embarrassed that they even called the press,” she wrote.