In the news: school to charge parents for late pick-up

8:50 am

Fox 12 TV is reporting that Woodmere Elementary School in southeast Portland will begin charging parents late fees when they pick up their kids more than ten minutes after the final bell. For every each ten minute block after the first ten, parents will be charged $5, the equivalent of $30 an hour.

Woodmere students are 57 percent non-white. Eighty percent qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 34 percent are English Language Learners. Fox 12 reports that the district will study the program and consider implementing it at other schools.

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: ELL/LEP, Equity, Media, Race

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11 Responses

  1. Comment from Ken:

    I don’t think this is what we have in mind when talking about ways to raising funds for public schools…

  2. Comment from becky:

    What about kids who walk home by themselves (they still exist!) Are they going to be fined as well if they dawdle on the playground playing with friends?

  3. Comment from mom:

    I actually don’t see anything wrong with this. In fact, I kind of like it. It’s not the school’s responsibility to watch anyone’s kids after the bell.

  4. Comment from Steve Buel:

    How sad our society has sunk to this level. Used to be the kid could stick around a little in the library, or play on the playground, or help out a favorite teacher. Now the library doesn’t exist or isn’t open after school, the playground could be visited by a child molester, and the teacher is afraid of being accused of being one if he or she keeps a lone kid after school.

  5. Comment from Sarah Carlin Ames:

    Nobody’s kicking kids off the playground or raising money! In fact, we hope none of the Woodmere parents push their luck enough end up paying. This is one school’s response to some habitual offenders who see nothing wrong with having their kids hang out after school in the school office (keeping the secretary late). If teachers or librarians want to have kids help out after school, that’s their business, but it’s not part of their workday so we can’t have parents count on it. And if parents allow their older students to hang out and play with friends outside the building, that’s fine. But again, they can’t be the teacher’s (or secretary’s or principal’s) responsibility.

    Sarah Carlin Ames
    PPS Public Affairs

  6. Comment from Stephanie:


    I am wondering what the response was of the parents or caregivers who are considered habitual offenders when approached on this issue? Did someone talk with them about this and try to work with them on what the barrier is to getting to the school on time? Did they really respond by saying that they saw no problem with allowing their kids to go to the office? I am hoping a conversation happened before instituting a punishment based system with assumptions that parents don’t care.

  7. Comment from Susan:

    “School officials call it a ‘child care fee.'”

    Woodmere doesn’t have a child care program (80% free and reduced lunch, probably not many families could afford one), but the school wants to charge a child care fee? There is a SUN program–at least there was a SUN program last year. Maybe there could be a dialogue between school administrators and the SUN coordinator to see if students who “chronically” are late being picked up could be channeled into an after-school program.

    It does seem that the demographics at Woodmere make it a curious choice for piloting this approach.

    How can the district possibly impose this fee? No graduating to middle school until all “late” fees are paid? Turn it over to bill collectors? Yikes.

  8. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    Woodmere’s school facts page boasts:

    “•Extended day program before and after School is a joint effort between Multnomah County and the City of PortlandSchools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Project. Woodmere is a SUN school, building families and community into a collaborative program in a school-community setting.
    •Woodmere families are supported through the Multnomah County Touchstone Program. Touchstone provides a family intervention specialist to work with identified families at Woodmere, assisting in coordination services and advocacy based on family strengths and goals.”

    Where are the Touchstone staff? What kind of message does this send to the children involved? You’re not wanted at school.

    I find it hard to believe that this is one school’s response to habitual offenders. Is it just a few parents and the principal doesn’t have the skills to work with them?

    Does this happen at higher SES schools?

    Does the school need a license to run a childcare facility? Does the $30 an hour include meals? What is the consequence for failing to pay the bill?

    If this is truly a neglect issue on the part of the parents, school staff have a legal duty to report it.

  9. Comment from Katie:

    My guess is that this has been an ongoing problem for the school and that the principal and staff have exhausted all other options. Day care facilities charge late pick up fees to parents to discourage people from taking advantage of their services and that is what has happened at Woodmere. I think these parents understand the language of money since all students were picked up on time.

    It’s not a perfect system, but it seems to have driven the point home

  10. Comment from Buzz:

    I do have to wonder whether this is legal. Public schools can’t just decide to charge fees for whatever they want.

  11. Comment from Stephanie:

    The difference between a daycare and a public education is that parents pay for their child to attend the daycare and sign forms where they agree to late pick up fees. Even at my daughter’s past daycare when they started this they realized it was a bad idea because it was too hard to enforce and parents just started calling ahead to say they would be late and why; to be fair they should have been doing that anyway but that was the lesson learned. Even at the fee for service daycare I questioned the fairness of this practice and whether or not I was being given special treatment as a visible parent volunteer but also as someone occasionally late because I work in crisis and travel a lot. I tried to pay the fee once for being late and they wouldn’t take it.
    I would not necessarily call the surface success of this practice a victory by any means. I agree with the previous post about connecting these kids with the after school programs instead and finding out what the story is with these parents. Over time this practice will become unenforceable and it is just a “fear the punisher” based system that is not durable, teaches no new skills, and does not solve the real problem.
    Public education on a national level as well as public institutions have not changed for 100 years with the culture, family styles, and changes in the economy with two caregivers out working or single parent, grandparent, foster parent etc. families. Employers are not understanding that you need to have a schedule that allows you to not only pick up a child before the end of the traditional work day but also find someone to watch them one Wednesday a month when the school starts late. In this economy these parents might be taking the only job they can get or turning down jobs to flex around a school year and day that does not match the expectations of employers. I guess that is a bigger issue than just Woodmere dropping this new policy but it is all related.
    Also, I heard the radio newscaster talk about this during the news and it sounded just awful and made these parent sound like total jerks. Let’s not use shame and punishment PPS, you can do better.