(Warning...VERY LONG READING.)
So far, this school year, I've done my duty to pick up my children on time after school. Zac usually rides the bus home, but after school practice keeps him there until 3:45. Jake gets out at 3:35, and I pick him up since we only live 2 miles from the school. His bus ride is an hour. I have no intention of having him on the bus for an hour to go 2 miles.
The deal is that EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. this school year that I've waited the line to pick up Jake, I'm in line until 3:55 and receiving a call from Zac's coach wondering if I intend to pick up the boy, to which I reply that I'm still waiting in the elementary school line after 20 or more minutes. So...yesterday, I picked up Zac first at 3:45 and then went to get Jake at 3:50.
Jake was back inside the building in after-care.
I thought the top of my head might explode.
I hunted him down in the building asking everyone where the after-care was located. I was directed all the way down the hall to a breeze-way between 2 buildings where another quasi-teacher-type of person with a mouthful of Cheetos said, "They's down the hall in Mrs. So and So's computer lab." Thank you, Louisiana for teaching proper grammar and speech so that our state can continue its tradition of ignorance. I digress...
I found Jake in the lab where the teacher was just checking him in. I got there and he met me in the hall where we began to walk to the front entrance of the building. Mrs. So and So followed me into the hall to inform me that there was a $5 charge for after-care. I don't think there is a prima ballerina on the planet who can spin around faster than I did at that moment. I told her that I had no intention whatsoever of paying the fee for after-care. She tried to push the issue with me, so I repeated myself. She said that was fine, I would have to speak with Mrs. D, the principal.
I went up to the reception desk, sent Jake out to the car with George and Zac, and the receptionist proceeded, then to whip out her copy of the school handbook with the after-care policy highlighted, and then remind me that I signed the receipt that I had read and accepted the school policy at the beginning of the year. Well of course, I read the policy and signed the receipt, but tell me how from their bully pulpit am I supposed to do anything but accept the policy? I digress...
Mrs. D made it out to discuss the issue with me. I told her I had absolutely no intention of paying the $5 for after-care. She said that was fine, it could just go on our school tab. I said no. There will be no tab, you will not withhold my child's report card, yearbook, spirit clothes, or field trip over this. I will not pay the $5.
I could feel the gray-matter boiling.
I asked her several questions about how this situation should be handled. How for the previous 40 or 50 days of school I've waited in the pick up line until 3:55 or later, but the ONE DAY I'm here at 3:50, my child is gone to after-care? She attempted to show me the highlighted portion of the handbook. I told her I KNOW the policy. She informed me that the school district provides bus service for all its students. I repeated my sentiment about the bus I mentioned at the beginning of this post. She sympathized.
At any rate, I reminded her that I am not a repeat late offender and I'd be happy to pay if this was a continuing problem. She stopped me with "that's how we'll resolve this. We'll waive the fee this time, but if it happens again, there will be a fee." In Mrs. D's defense, she was the absolute picture of professionalism, she used her condescending "I'm talking to a crazy mother" professional voice.
So, today, I was in line at 3:30 to pick up Jake. I didn't get to the front of the line to pick up Jake until 3:45 (when the policy manual says all children will be taken to after-care). There were still at least 20 cars behind me and when I went back by the school at 4:00, the left-over students were just then headed in for after-care.
I think Mrs. D let the kids out early yesterday.