Are you that parent who checks your child’s homework while in the drop-off line at school?
Do you chat on your cellphone while ignoring a crossing guard’s stop sign?
Have you ever zipped in front of another car in the drive line, thinking it was OK because you’re in a hurry?
Then you fail at the drop-off and pickup game, one of the most maddening back-to-school rituals that requires everyone to play by the rules to keep traffic moving and tempers from flaring.
“It only takes one parent to get out in the wrong spot to cause the whole system problems,” said Tony Johnson, principal at Keller’s Basswood Elementary School.
Some schools are better than others at managing traffic and are methodical in their execution.
Take the bustling International Leadership of Texas-Keller, a K-8 charter school in north Fort Worth, where 900 vehicles come through twice a day and are met by 20 teachers and administrators and at least one police officer.
After turning into the school’s main entrance off Tehama Ridge Parkway, drivers can choose the red lane for the east side of the campus or the blue lane for the west side. Those lanes then split into four before the cargo is unloaded.
Parents made their way through a complicated drive line course at the new building for International Leadership of Texas-Keller Saginaw High School in Fort Worth on the first day of school on Thursday, August 17, 2017.
The process is a little more complicated after school. Drivers have a number displayed on their dash or mirror and teachers working the lanes enter each number into a tablet, which is sent to a projector system in classrooms, where another teacher tells Timmy or Tonya to go to Red 2 or Blue 1 for transport home, at a specific time.
Although not all schools employ such an intricate system, few are immune from the frustrations that come with dealing with the drive lines, or drop-off lanes, especially at overcrowded campuses.
With school underway in many Tarrant County school districts, we asked parents and educators — on social media and in person — about what drives them nuts when dropping off and picking up their children from school.
Here’s what they had to say.
Follow the rules
“The most important thing is to actually honor the drop-off zone,” said mom Nadine Parsons, who describes herself as a 13-year drive line veteran in Keller schools. “Get in line, stay in line and don’t cut.”
And don’t put kids or yourself in danger with risky behavior to avoid the drop-off zone.
“We do have parents who don’t use crosswalks. Teach kids where to cross safely and always use the crosswalk,” said Johnson, the Basswood Elementary principal.
It’s the chronic rule breakers, often parents in such a hurry, who really incite drop-off rage.
“Don’t weave in and out of the car pick-up lines,” Kala Reno, mother of three Birdville school district students from kindergarten through eighth grade. “It’s extremely dangerous and it is worth the extra yards to stay safe.”
“Do NOT stop in the middle of any street to drop off your kids. You are putting them in danger. This happens right outside of my neighborhood, all the time. Do not force your kids to navigate a busy intersection because you are too LAZY to do it for them!” Chris Williams said on Facebook.
Several parents said they get frustrated when the line stalls due to unnecessary long goodbyes and prolonged collecting of backpacks, band instruments and lunch money.
“Don’t dawdle and wait for little Johnny to make it all the way in the door while you’re blowing air kisses. Let the teacher meet him at the curb and off you go!” said parent Michelle Goolsy Green, on Facebook.
If that’s you, park in a designated spot outside the drive lines and take care of your PDA.
“Stay in the car, for the love, and don’t open up your trunk for your snowflakes to load/unload their gear,” said Jennifer Hunt, a mother of kids at Keller Middle School and Westlake Academy, on Facebook..
And don’t try to keep your precious one in the car as long as possible.
“For drop-off, have your kids get out of the car at the first available safe point, even if that means they will have to (gasp!) walk a little ways to the front door. Don’t keep them in the car until you reach the front of the line,” Hunt said.
Time is on your side
Some parents swear by the practice of being extra early, especially for pickup.
Principals say it isn’t necessary.
Leah Estrada, a parent with students at the charter school in north Fort Worth, said she gets in line more than half an hour early. She writes in her journal and plans the next day’s tasks while she waits.
That’s fine, but administrators say that idle time presents problems as well.
That’s why Leopoldo Perea, an International Leadership of Texas-Keller assistant principal, keeps a large remote battery charger in his office because on hot days, some drivers will keep their air-conditioners running while their engine is off, a battery-drainer.
And yes, some parents run out of gas while waiting, so teachers hurry to a corner convenience store with a gas can.
“There’s no need to spend more than an hour waiting when you could complete the whole process in 15 or 20 minutes, if you came later,” Perea said.
Be patient, my friend
The most important rule is to drive slow, play nice and be patient.
Some parents are just learning about the drop-off system and others might be dealing with other issues.
Donna Thomas, mom of an elementary student in the Birdville district, pleaded with other parents to be patient with special needs kids.
Her daughter has Down Syndrome and uses a five-point safety harness to ensure her child’s safety.
She doesn’t use the pick-up line after school because of the time it takes to get her daughter seated and buckled in. But she does use the drop-off line in the morning, and it takes the teacher a little longer to help her daughter out of the car.
“Go around, if possible,” Thomas said in a Facebook reply. “And please don’t give me the stink eye when you go around me.”