Free-Range Kids

3 Girls Walk to School. Cops Force Them into Truancy Van Right Before They Get There.

A substitute bus driver missed them.

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Walking
Dreamstime

Three Atlanta girls walking to school were forced into a truancy van last week, even though they were just 50 yards from the school. 

WXIA 11Alive reports that Carrie and Colleen Miller, twins in their teens, normally take the school bus. But on May 4, a substitute driver missed their stop, so they decided to walk the 2.5 miles instead, along with another friend. Just when they had almost reached the school, truant officers confronted the girls and told them they had to get into the MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) van:

"We were just walking and we see a parked MARTA van, and then a MARTA police stops and two men come out. They said, 'Can you get in the van?'  And we were like 'Why?' But they wouldn't tell us," Colleen said. 

"They were forcing us to get in to the van, it was more like, 'Get into the van!' And we were so confused," her twin sister Carrie said.

The girls recorded some of the back and forth on their cell phones. On the short clip, you can hear a man saying, "Can't you just get into the van?"

When asked by 11 Alive News why the girls had to be stopped when they were so close to school, Atlanta Public Schools sent a statement:

Atlanta Public Schools works collaboratively with the Atlanta Police Department and MARTA Police Department year-round to conduct truancy sweeps within our school zone. The APS Truancy Office protocol states that 'APD Truancy Officers and MARTA Police Officers are to transport students to the APS Truancy Center or their APS school from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in accordance with the city ordinance.'

The Atlanta City Ordinance states that students are supposed to be in school during school hours, unless they have a valid excuse. The MARTA police officers clearly identified themselves to the students before transporting them in a MARTA Police truancy vehicle back to school. The school bus driver, who was a substitute driver, missed their bus stop. The students who returned to school were not considered "truant" since they were on their way to school. They were instead classified as "late to school." 

The Miller girls say this was not well explained to them. "We kept questioning them and they would never give us full answers," Carrie said. What's more, she was worried about being forced into a van by strange men for seemingly no reason. There is a certain menace to that, of course.

But even though the authorities were, indeed, the authorities, they should not have the authority to ignore the fact their intervention was not only unnecessary but pathetic: The school was right there, the girls were headed toward it, not running away, and if they had asked why the girls were late, an explanation would have been forthcoming.

This is another case of zero tolerance. In this case, zero tolerance for reality. Not a great trait in those given the power to hound our children.

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  1. OMWC please pick up the white courtesy phone…

    1. Turns out, he didn’t even need candy. Just an insistence that they get in the van.

      1. It’s called “kidnapping”, regardless of what clown suit is being worn.

        They should be treated like pedophiles. Wouldn’t surprise me if they actually are.

        1. Schools everywhere need to start teaching kids, “Ya see anyone with a badge or w/o one, saying, “Just get in my van”, then RUN LIKE HELL!!! Would the pIgs have shot the girls for just RUNNING AWAY?!?!

  2. Can anyone account for OMWC’s whereabouts at the time?

    1. Jesus Christ! These girls are post-pubescent high school upperclassmen. What the fuck do you think OMWC is, a sick fuck like you?

    2. This may explain OMWC’s absence.

      The man who shot himself after an eight-hour standoff with police on Queen Anne on Monday has been charged with first-degree armed robbery of a man he met on the hookup app Grindr.

      1. Joke’s on you; he only uses the Playdoh social app.

        1. So that story’s about Episiarch then?

          1. I hope he didn’t get any illusions of grandeur or delusions of martyrdom and go all Jim Morrison or Latka Gravas on us.

  3. Let the lawsuits begin.

  4. The girls’ father works for the news?
    You dun fucked up Atlanta Public Schools, PD, and MARTA.

    1. Sorry, but the PD did not fuck up. They followed procedures.

      1. STOP RESISTING is the new zero tolerance.

  5. I’m glad to see the youth learning to record all interaction with authority and resisting orders.

      1. I always knew the libertarian moment would involve being forced into an unmarked van.

        1. I know wha…
          *dart to neck*

          1. Message for you, sir!

    1. This is why libertarianism is considered childish and selfish.

  6. Look at it from the perspective of the worker: Does he get fired if he doesn’t pick up someone who’s not in school during school hours? If he lets the kids walk the rest of the way, does he get sued if one of the kids is hit by a car between him and the school? Does he really want to get into a battle of wits with a teenager who claims to be walking to school?

    And from the perspective of the school district: how much discretion is it wise to give to someone who likely doesn’t have that job because they’re the sharpest tool in the shed? Do they really want low-level employees having the ability to make things up as they go along?

    Zero-tolerance can also be described as zero-discretion. And while it’s par for the course for Reason to depict these as all harmful to the public, I can see a lot of situations where the public is protected by NOT giving low level employees the ability to decide what they will and what they won’t take seriously.

    1. If you can’t figure out that school age people walking towards a school are going to school, the only job you should have is B Porno fluffer.

      1. I wouldn’t trust anyone that dumb with my penis.

        1. ^This^

          There’s literally no job on the planet simple enough for such an insipid moron to ever qualify for.

    2. So the answer is to dumb it down?

    3. Jesus christ. Please tell me this isn’t a serious post.

      1. In all fairness to SS, the point he is making is a very narrow one, one about the employee’s actions. If an employee does not have the authority to use his own best judgement, then he is going to do what he is told.

        Hell, this even applies to judges that make 6-figure incomes. How many times do we see stories where a judge is “forced” to send a 3-time felon to jail for 25 years because he stole a candy bar? Do we call the judge moron?

        1. Well, technically judges aren’t forced to do such a thing. They can rule that the sentence is a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Yes, it will be reversed, but they will not suffer recriminations for doing so.

        2. Do we call the judge moron?

          Um…

          Yes?

        3. “regulations were followed” is the new “I was just following orders”.

    4. Does he get fired if he doesn’t pick up someone who’s not in school during school hours?
      Students who are walking to school during school hours? I hope not. If so, then that supports the idea that zero tolerance has led us towards madness.

      If he lets the kids walk the rest of the way, does he get sued if one of the kids is hit by a car between him and the school?
      This is an unreasonable fear. If this is part of his decision making process, then I fully support his termination.

      Does he really want to get into a battle of wits with a teenager who claims to be walking to school?
      A battle of wits? Here’s an idea. Watch as they walk the additional 50 yards to school. Or escort them to school.

      Do they really want low-level employees having the ability to make things up as they go along?
      Yes. Employees need to demonstrate the judgment required for successfully performing their jobs. Treating employees like robots is just begging for people to hack the bureaucratic maze of rules.

      1. Employees need to demonstrate the judgment required for successfully performing their jobs

        Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. This isn’t the private sector.

    5. And from the perspective of the school district: how much discretion is it wise to give to someone who likely doesn’t have that job because they’re the sharpest tool in the shed? Do they really want low-level employees having the ability to make things up as they go along?

      Here’s a crazy idea: the school could just not have a truancy gestapo.

  7. Never be late to or absence from the (re)education camps.

    1. I really wish we could get people to start calling public school, government school.

        1. Actually, they call the public schools “private schools,” and vice versa. Introduction to Newspeak, dontcha know.

      1. I told my daughter to be prepared for me to refer to public school as “indoctrination camp” to my grandson. As in, “What did you learn in indoctrination camp, today, dear?” “You need to go to bed on time so you can get up in the morning and be on time to indoctrination camp!”

        She’s amused. For now.

      2. I call them starter prisons.

        1. So witty.

          1. That hurts.

        2. “starter prisons” Stealing that.

      3. I really wish we could get people to start calling public school, government school.
        Excellent. I will from now on.

        “my kid doesn’t go to a government school, she goes to a free market school”

  8. Anyone telling my kids to get into a van isn’t going to live to talk about it.

    1. Even if it has gold shag carpeting and Led Zeppelin is being played from its speakers?

    2. That’s what I was thinking. My extremely independent teenager likely would’ve taken similar action, but maybe she would’ve texted me to let me know. If I was, say, half way to work I might turn around and give her a lift part of the way. If I had pulled up and two strange men were forcing her into a van, even if it had MARTA markings on it, there is no way I would allow them in the van regardless of the two guy’s explanation, even if it meant causing them physical harm to prevent it from happening.

    3. *changes California vacation plan*

      1. I’ll let you live as an example to others. When asked, tell them what happened to you.

  9. Good thing they didn’t run or reach for a hairbrush.

  10. When I see stupid behavior like this, I always think first about incentives.

    I will bet money that the agency running the vans have some sort of metric they have to hit for number of kids swept up each month. Just like police writing up bs tickets on the last day of the month to hit quota, I would not be at all surprised if the van driver saw the 50 yard drive with three kids as an easy way to pad the numbers

    1. And the school probably gets docked money for each student not in class. Voters frown upon dragging bemeasled children to school, but applaud rounding up truant children.

      1. the school probably gets docked money for each student not in class

        Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

    2. As I understand it, there are quotas and I know that government schools do indeed get money based, in part, on attendance percentages.

      Didn’t The Wire have a short story arc on this issue?

  11. I feel safer.

  12. That attending public school is mandatory is abominable enough, by all measures, but that there exist among us parasitic reprobates whose jobs entail the abduction of minors under authority of governance is beyond words.

  13. Truancy Officers?

    That’s a real thing? I mean I’ve heard of the concept but assumed it was a myth.

    Why?

    Kid is absent and doesn’t have a parental excuse gets detention/suspension. Why exactly would you pay some idiot to harass children?

    1. It’s a real thing. It’s illegal to not be in school. The state has a “compelling interest” for its youth to attend school, so they’ll round you up and put you in school. Because it’s the law.

      1. As I recall, we were required by law to attend school too. I law that was ignored, out of hand. I skipped school about 3-4 times a year, always with parental permission. Went skiing, hunting, fishing… The old man would write it right on the excuse. Fd’A went skiing.

        What the fuck is wrong with people that they put up with this bullshit? NO, the government doesn’t get a say in how I raise my kids unless I’m beating them.

        1. I’m no expert but I think there started to be some school funding tied to ‘attending students’ so it became in the interest of the school to get bodies in seats- especially in poor, urban districts where there was a lot of truancy. So, having a law to back them up, the schools would actually hire a ‘truancy officer’ to round up kids on the corner and get them in a seat, even if for a day. That allowed to schools to statistically report ‘x students in school for the week of’ and then they could tie that to funding requests.

          I have no doubt the whole thing is a sordid tale of perverted incentives.

          1. Couldn’t they just make up numbers kinda like they do for the kids SAT scores?

      2. The state has a “compelling interest” for its youth to attend school

        That “compelling interest” being the taxpayer cashola they’ll miss out on if their attendance numbers aren’t as close to 100% as possible.

      3. And school districts have a compelling monetary interest that kids be in their seats every day.

        In some states, if they skip too may days, kids and/or their parents/guardians can end up in jail. One way to end up in jail is failing to show up for school after being ordered to do so by a judge. I.e. contempt of court.

  14. 3 Girls Walk to School. Cops Force Them into Truancy Van Right Kidnap Them Before They Get There.

    FTFY.

  15. The MARTA police officers clearly identified themselves to the students before transporting them in a MARTA Police truancy vehicle back to school. The school bus driver, who was a substitute driver, missed their bus stop. The students who returned to school were not considered “truant” since they were on their way to school. They were instead classified as “late to school.”

    back to school, returned to school, on their way to school. you can actually see the refusal to admit being mistaken inherent in the system right up until they do admit it.

  16. Lesson learned: if you miss your bus, go home and skip school for the day.

  17. Wait, wait, wait – I thought APS just got done cutting their ties to APD. You’re telling me they fired the real cops and replaced them with the Bus Police?

    The move will give the system more control over who polices the schools. Jernigan said it will also allow them to train officers in a way that aligns with APS’s new philosophy emphasizing “social and emotional learning.”

    “They will be armed, sworn officers,” explained Jernigan. “But the biggest thing that hopefully will look different for kids is that our officers are going to be trained to build relationships with kids in a very different way.”

    Although I suppose training the kids to get in the van when strange men tell them to get in the van is technically a very different way of building relationships. And emotional learning that takes years of therapy to deal with I suppose certainly can’t be criticized for being ineffective.

    1. That’s certainly a way of building relationships. They detained three innocent children, forced them into a van, and refused to tell them why. And they wonder why they are hated.

  18. So here’s how to kidnap kids – if anybody’s looking.

    1. *OMWC furiously scribbles notes*

  19. The school bus driver, who was a substitute driver, missed their bus stop.

    So, let me get this straight. The agent of the government fu**ed up. The girls were attempting to respond by compensating for the driver’s (or the school’s) incompetence. The girls, in turn, get treated like criminals.

    And yet some people want to justify the government’s behavior.

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  21. Ridiculous.Total abuse of power.

  22. So, with the right decorations and uniform, you can park a van outside a school and easily grab up multiple teen girls at once. I fear someone might use this information for evil.

  23. But even though the authorities were, indeed, the authorities, they should not have the authority to ignore the fact their intervention was not only unnecessary but pathetic: The school was right there, the girls were headed toward it, not running away, and if they had asked why the girls were late, an explanation would have been forthcoming.

    Failures like this can only be prevented with more money.

  24. Never get into a van with a truancy officer.

    Out of an abundance of caution, we should close all the public schools until we can be sure this will never happen to a child again.

  25. When you think about it, the kids had to make a choice at that precise moment: “which is safer, the van or the school?”

  26. Public school is prison training for kids.

    Wake up Mom and Dad.

  27. So MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) has it’s own separate police force from the Police force? That’s…bizarre. Possibly the strangest thing in this story. It seems like every agency gets it’s own independent police these days…

    1. It’s called empire building.

    2. Lots of transit systems that cross jurisdictional lines have their own police forces. It makes sense, from the standpoint of when a mugging occurs on a moving train, they don’t have to figure out *exactly* where the train was and call that jurisdiction’s cops to investigate, on a train that isn’t in their jurisdiction any more. It also means that you can have a cop on ‘patrol’ riding the train, who doesn’t have to jump off before the train crosses out of Atlanta (and thereby leaving ‘unpoliceable’ areas between two stops that sit on opposite sides of a city line).

      1. Then what’s the excuse for the transit police in NYC? Or the sanitation police, the housing police, the parks police….

  28. Another reason why so many decent people hate cops.

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  30. I hope that my daughter would never get into some stranger’s van, even if he identified himself as some sort of authority.

  31. Three Atlanta girls walking to school were forced into a truancy van last week, even though they were just 50 yards from the school.

    They should have just started screaming for help.

    Trying to force 3 screaming school girls into a van. Let’s see how that works out.

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