Saturday, August 29, 2009

...And The Horse You Rode In On!

A Jacksonville, Florida mom on a budget wasn't prepared to shell out extra bucks for fuel when her daughter's elementary school implemented a new policy for picking up children. The new rule, put in place due to a busy construction project taking place in front of the school, requires that a school staff person must accompany each student to his or her parents' waiting automobile. The result? A long line of cars, sitting and idling for up to two and a half hours.

Deidre Exum says she doesn't have the money in her tight budget for the extra fuel cost. She does, however, have feed for her horses already built in to her budget. Her solution? Ride her horse to the school, leading her daughter's horse. She thought she'd pick up her daughter, and they'd ride home together.

Not so fast, Horse Mama!

The school's principal insists that having large animals, including horses, on school grounds is a safety risk for the children. She reported the horse-ridin' rebel mama to the cops, who picked up her daughter and drove her child home. To wait. Alone. Until her mom could get there.

Well, obviously, the principal had the child's safety in mind when she had the cops drop an eight year-old girl off at home alone, right?

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

In a video, viewable here, the principal is stating emphatically that they (the school) just can't have a child riding a horse in a busy intersection. Ummm - excuse me? I believe the school's responsibility for the child's way home should end when the parent picks up the child (barring, of course, obvious dangers, like an intoxicated parent attempting to pick up a child up in a vehicle - in that case, by all means, intervene).

Does the school get to have my child taken home by the police if I arrive on a motorcycle, with a helmet for my child, if the principal thinks a motorcycle is too dangerous? What if I show up and hand my kid a pair of inline skates and proceed to cross a "busy intersection" with him? What if I tell him to hop on a unicycle? Is it any of the school's business how I get my kid home?

Also, I think it's pretty brilliant of Deidre to choose such an environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Everyone knows we need to drive less or use less polluting modes of transportation. "Cash for Clunkers" ring a bell with anyone?

You can read an editorial on the story here.

What do you think? Did the school overstep its bounds? Is this mom being persecuted for trying to save a few bucks?

Photo credit:


  1. How crazy is that! With the pick up line so long at our school, thank goodness we can walk. It's always faster too!

    Happy VGNO!

  2. This seemed like the perfect solution to this mother's problem. I am dismayed that school administration saw it as anything more than a great thing.

  3. I agree with menancingpickle about the school administration's inability to view this as an opportunity. The arrest is even more upsetting as they could have just asked that she not do it again. The child was not in danger. If they were worried about the horse and school grounds, then they could have asked that she leave school property instead of calling the police.

    I am also curious, like you, as to where the admin's authority ends?

    We are supposed to be teaching our children the value not only of treating our environment with care, but also life skills and problem solving which is what this mother demonstrated.

  4. @JulieChats: I wonder, if she had "parked" her horse across the street, would they have allowed her to pick up her child on foot, knowing that she was going to put her on a horse across the street? When does the school's authority end?

    @menacingpickle: As you, of all people, are aware, folks who are innovative are also frequently the least celebrated.

    @whimsicalwalney: From the video and commentaries I've seen, I do not believe the mom was arrested. She WAS told that the horse will not be allowed at the school. I believe the police took the daughter home because, presumably, the mother was not "fit" at the time and the school staff was too busy, walking individual students to their parents' cars. I do agree that the school should have seen this as an opportunity, especially to educate the kids on alternative methods of transportation. Make an enviro-education experience out of it!

  5. WOW!! Unbelieveable. It seems like it gets worse year after year. I know of a principal who is always overstepping his bounds. Some things are none of their business.

    I can see them being worried about a horse maybe injuring a child on school campus. It would be very curious to me as stated above , if she had parked the horse then got her daughter what they would say.

    Leaving a child home by herself by the police is ridiculous. This was a mess...

  6. Grissell - It will be interesting to see how this plays out, that's for sure!


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