Parents upset about new Magnolia school pickup policy

Policy limits way parents pick up their kids after school

MAGNOLIA, Texas – A large number of parents whose kids attend Bear Branch Elementary School on FM 1488 in Magnolia are upset about a new policy that prohibits the way they used to pick up their kids after school.

Parents told KPRC 2 News they are no longer allowed to walk to the school or drive to the school, park their car and go inside to retrieve their children. Now, they must either send their kids home on the bus or sit in the pickup line after school, which they said takes way too long.

"People start lining up here about 2:30 p.m. for a 3:25 p.m. dismissal," said Jeff Wendinger, the parent of a student at the school.

"It's a ridiculous situation for everyone," Jackie McConnell said. "I got here shortly after 2 p.m."

Parents are complaining that even if they live just a few blocks away, they are still being forced to drive to the school and pick their kids up in a car. That's why the line is so long and that's why, they said, the process takes an hour.

The school only dismisses a few kids at time. Sending their kids home on the bus, they said, takes even longer because of all the stops.

A spokesperson for the Magnolia Independent School District told Channel 2 this process is to ensure the kids' safety. There are 639 students who attend the school, which is located on a busy five-lane highway. The process, she said, takes approximately 30 minutes or less.

One parent who spoke to Channel 2 agreed.

"I'll sit here the 45 minutes or an hour so that I know my daughter is safe," Doreen Thurkettle said. "It really doesn't bother me."

Dozens of other parents don't agree and said it's a waste of time and it's inconvenient.

"We can no longer walk up and pick up our students," Mary Erato said.

"It used to be much easier," said Donna Bayer, who picks up her granddaughter after school. "I could walk up and get her and put her in the car. I didn't have to get in this line."

Upset parents said they have reached out to administrators and to the district hoping things could go back to the way they were, but so far no one is listening.

"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."