Friday, March 20, 2009

You think I'm paranoid?

So there is an issue at school. A few years back, after a shooting in the state, the principal closed the front double doors in the school and changed the access rules for the building. This year, new principal. She decided that they were going to re-open the doors and I wrote a letter.

I think it's a bad idea for many reasons, safety being the primary one. The way the building is configured, the doors lead to a hallway and classrooms. And you can walk through those doors before walking past the office. It wouldn't be hard for an intruder to gain access to the interior of the building if the doors are opened. And there are other options.

I was invited to a meeting of parents that serves as an advisory board to the principal, and asked to share my concerns. It was pretty clear that they had already made up their minds, and that they were just hearing me out. They all assume that nothing will ever happen at school, which is a nice assumption really. But it is an assumption.

Having lived down the street from Santana High and dealing with the aftermath of a stabbing at Valley View, I have personal experience with school violence. It is not just a hypothetical. It really happens. It's not something that people want to believe happens, but it does.

One of the board members was quick to judge me as being overly worried to the point of being paranoid. That I was being too overprotective, and that there is no way that we as parents can avoid all harm. Really, we are just talking about a set of doors. A set of doors that cannot be closed even with a panic button in time to keep someone out.

I don't live in fear of things. I never have. I found it interesting that I was being labeled as paranoid when I am pretty far from it. I am practical and realistic. And I am not alone. Most of the other parents I have talked to about the issue agree with me.

Yesterday, I realized why this board member, this mother, had labeled me paranoid. I was talking to a friend after drop off and the board member pulled up in the front of the school. Parked in the fire lane and left the car full of kids while she went into the school for about 5 minutes. Only one of the kids she left in the car belongs to her. The others are children she is supposed to be watching through her in-home daycare.

She sees nothing wrong with parking in a fire lane, one clearly marked *No Parking*. She seems to think it is okay to leave kids in a car, even those she is paid to watch. Bad enough to do it with her own kids, but to do that with other people's? Her definition of responsible parenting and mine clearly are different. No wonder she thinks I am paranoid.

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