Free-Range Kids

School Calls Child Services on Mom Who Was 7 Minutes Late to Pick Up Her 10-Year-Old Son

"I'm getting it out there to make people aware," said JaNay Dodson in an interview.

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When 10 -year-old Braylin Harvey was picked up seven minutes late from his Chicago public school, the school called the Department of Child and Family Services to report a case of neglect.

Two days later, Harvey was pulled out of class and interrogated by a caseworker. The next day, a caseworker showed up at his home to investigate his mom, JaNay Dodson, herself a Chicago public school teacher for 19 years. The investigator asked her to provide contact information for people who might reassure the department that she's a good mother.

Now mom is fighting back.

"I'm getting it out there to make people aware," said Dodson in an interview.

While she is certain she will be found not guilty of neglect, she was stunned by how easy it was to open an investigation.

The day this all began—Tuesday, March 2—was just the second day Chicago public school students were back at their desks in a year. The bus schedule at Inter-American Magnet School was confusing and Dodson eventually realized her son wasn't going to get a ride home and that she wouldn't be able to pick him up in time, either (because she was working). She called the school to alert them, but couldn't get through to a human. Meantime, she called her brother to go pick up her son, and he arrived at 4:37 p.m.

School dismisses at 4 p.m. There is a 30-minute grace period: After that, the school must alert the police and child protective services, according to district policy.

The school's principal, Daniela Bylaitis, did not return my call. But in an email obtained by the website Block Club Chicago, she wrote the following to Dodson:

Yesterday, Braylin was not picked up from school until 4:37 p.m. I am empathetic to the challenges of balancing work and family responsibilities, however, all school employees are mandated reporters and are required to follow CPS protocols and guidance. Please be sure that Braylin is picked up on time tomorrow.

And yet, the policy also states that if the school sees no one is picking up a child, it should try to reach the parent or emergency contacts, which did not happen.

That Thursday, two days after the incident, Dodson went to pick up her son and waited around to see if anyone else got picked up late. Indeed, a child was picked up at 4:47.

"When his father pulled up, I asked him if he had ever been late before and he told me this was the third time he was late this week because something's going on with the scheduling of the school buses," said Dodson. "And I told him what had happened and he said, 'What? No one has said that to me.'"

Dodson's son has been at the school since kindergarten and she, too, had never experienced anything like this.

The following night, she went to the Local School Council to discuss the incident. Some of the members drafted a letter to the head of Chicago Public Schools, Janice Jackson, asking her to end the draconian pick-up policy. "We do not think it is reasonable to equate being late for pickup, in isolation, with child neglect," they wrote.

Since all teachers are mandatory reporters—that is, they are required to alert the authorities anytime they believe a child is being maltreated—the school is already looking out for neglected kids, they noted, making the pick-up policy "not only redundant but purposefully and unreasonably hurtful."

After all, it's not like this has been a normal school year. Context matters. And whenever child services gets involved in a family's life, it is traumatic for the kids and the adults. Dodson had to explain to Harvey that no one was coming to take him away.

"He was scared," said Dodson. "I had to sit him down and explain, I'm not fighting for you. I'm fighting for every other parent who cannot."

That's a lot of other parents. Dodson has already heard from a mom in Texas who said her school employs the same over-the-top protocol. And in Washington, D.C., the public school handbook says that if a child is not picked up after school dismissal at 3:15 p.m.:

School staff will call the parent/guardian after dismissal to request immediate pick up from school (at 3:30).  If the student is not picked up within 30 minutes, a second call will be made to the parent/guardian and emergency contacts on the student's afterschool enrollment form (at 4:00).  If a student is not picked up within an hour of the first call, CFSA will be contacted and asked to take custody of the student (at 4:30).

From normal kid to ward of the state in 75 minutes.

Which is not to say it's easy for schools to deal with a child no one picks up. But opening up a neglect case only makes sense if a kid is repeatedly stranded. Being seven minutes late one time is neither neglect nor abuse. It's the moral equivalent of calling child services over a hangnail.

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  2. I used to walk home from school.
    And it was uphill, both ways.
    And I had to share a pair of boots with my brother, and the boots leaked.

    1. No hills for me. A flat one mile, both ways. No snow either, but sometimes rain. Once is was foggy and when I finally got to school it was closed so I went back home. Then the radio announced it was open again so I walked a back.

      Regardless, the idea of not letting children walk home from school is… bizarre. Even today, in Commiefornia, I see kids walk to school all the time. No big deal. There are two elementary schools within a mile of me, and I see the sidewalks full of kids going to and from school.

      In fact, when I see kids being escorted by parents on thier way to school, they’re invariable WHITE. People of Color don’t need that kind of helicoptering around there. When the hell did White folk get so fragile?

      1. Have you noticed that white people are more fragile when they send their kids to a place like Chicago public schools? The city pays people hourly to wear crossing guard vests to line the streets in the ghetto because of all the shootings. 4000 people shot last year, 800 killed, would that appeal to you and your children?
        I took my kids to Chicago to show them where I went to school. They were terrified. I also took them on a night time “Jungle Tour” through the south side neighborhoods. They thought I was kidding when I checked my pistol beforehand. You can educate your kids in Chicago, just not in the schools.

        1. I think you grew up in a similar area to me

        2. My wife grew up in south Chicago in the 50’s and 60’s. It was fine. But she won’t go back to the old neighborhood any more.

        3. I am sure you also took the opportunity to lecture your kids on not judging people based on their membership in certain groups and to treat everyone like an individual.

          1. Like the Crips, the Bloods, or MS-13? No, judge those gangbangers as individuals.

  3. Bump it

  4. When we were kids, we walked home like normal people. And we wonder why kids these days have a sense of entitlement.

    1. That worked well when kids were mostly assigned to schools in or near their own neighborhood. Not so much when the kid is forced to attend a school on the far side of a major urban center from where he/she lives.

    2. Another possibility is that, like my kids, there are no sidewalks and the school is just a bit too far to walk reasonably.

      1. Why did you choose to live in a neighborhood with no sidewalks? Serious question.

  5. For self-righteous religious zealots, there’s no end to doing good. Just don’t get in their way.

  6. “however, all school employees are mandated reporters and are required to follow CPS protocols and guidance.”

    So she was just following orders?
    I thought the greatest generation stopped that fascist shit at Nuremberg.

    1. This is socialist shit, so good to go. They beat the fascists too.

      1. The only difference is who allegedly hold title to the means of production.
        Socialism, the state.
        Fascism, corporations controlled by the state.

    2. From time to time the tree of not-following-orders must be watered with the blood of people-having-actual-brains.

  7. So a Chicago school teacher was on the receiving end of school district’s stupidity?

    1. It does shave a bit off the sympathy factor.

  8. Morning Peanuts!
    Just to put it out there, I would have picked up her kid for her.

    1. What a great guy!

      1. Seriously though. Anyone willing to send their kids to Chicago Public Schools deserve it

    2. It’s what you do with the kid after you pick him up that we have a problem with.

      1. racist

        1. It’s cute when you try to argue and end up tripping over yourself.

  9. Just letting you know brother, I’m fighting hard for that right.

    1. Throwing wild punches and falling down the stairs isn’t fighting brother.

      1. No, no, Biden fell UP the stairs.

  10. I remember reading of a school that got sick of having its staff forced to wait around for tardy parents to come and pick up their children. They decided to institute a set of fines for the parents who arrived late. The idea being that fines would disincentivize late parents. In fact the opposite was true. Lateness became even more widespread, as parents who previously had avoided lateness out of consideration and politeness, now, with a price tag attached, they embraced the chance to be late without the social stigma.

    1. If the late fines went to whichever staff was hanging around after hours, it would be a win-win for everybody.

    2. It was in Freakonomics (the second book, I believe), and it was a day care.

      1. My best friend’s daycare has a policy like that, and they work to avoid it like the plague because the fees are fucking draconian. Which works, because they only hit it once…

  11. I said a similar story to reason about my father. He had alzheimer’s and called the cops on night. Cop says to me to paraphrase “I know how hard it can be.”
    Also relates to my father that he is free to go to hospital if he wishes. He says yes.

    While there he says to hospital staff the same exact thing he told the cop. Mandatory reporters they are, they alert adult protective services. Aps quickly decides that while he has mental deficits and cannot care for himself, he also has the capacity to “consent” to their services.

    He spent five weeks in the hospital at the direction of aps, and was given antipsychotics (bad for folks with alzheimer’s) because he tried to withdraw his consent to spending no medically necessary reason to spend in the hospital.

    He was under “jurisdiction” of aps for 6 months until he died. I spoke to a police detective at the insistence of aps as well. She did not have anything to say about squat.

    I told this all to reason, about engineered “consent” and about how aps is as evil as cps. About guardianship w/o a court order. Not sexy.

  12. I find the title of the article purposely misleading. The mother (actually, the uncle) was not “just 7 minutes late”. He was 37 minutes late. Using the 30-minute grace period is still being late.

    I guess Reason needed some clickbait today.

    1. If Reason focuses on the little, petty things, they figure that they can freely ignore the huge outrages the establishment is pulling, while still pretending to give a shit about libertarianism.

    2. Yeah, this is pretty pathetic.

  13. Chicago. stunner.

  14. You know it’s so great to be back in the Obama years again where you can have some government agency fuck you over for one mistake.

    Remember that lady who was behind on her student loans so the education department got a swat team to raid her house. Good times.

  15. When Chicago gets it’s next bailout, CPS will get more money. They will use that money to create more staff positions and create more union jobs for people with useless degrees from the local leftist diploma mills. Creating jobs, Chicago style. 54%-56% of the budget in Chicago goes to this failed institution. The Chicago taxpayers are on the hook for $19,000 a year to cover salaries and pensions.

  16. This is, of course, yet another bad outcome from mandatory reporting laws and the general hysteria around the topic of pedophilia and child abuse. When will we stop voting for this fake virtue?

    1. As soon as the progressives open up their wrists

  17. My mom was routinely like 45 minutes to an hour late and I just chilled in the front of the schoolyard. Insanity what has become of our culture.

    1. Because that same mom would sue the school for leaving your dumb ass alone after school.

  18. By my math they were 37 minutes late.

    If she did call the school in advance though, even if she left a message, that isn’t neglect, it’s life. It should be obvious that being late isn’t neglect.

    Why doesn’t the school have a policy of having other responsible willing parents at the school approved to take temporary custody in situations like this?

    Maybe after three documented and consulted occurrences call child services.

    What’s wrong with people? I guess it’s easier to cancel someone.

  19. Forget it its Chicago public school and Chicago child protection. Its looser progressive rapists backing looser progressive rapists

  20. Something somewhat similar happened to a friend of mine whose daughter was in kindergarten. The kid was late by five minutes for the third time in a month because of traffic (this is in Philly suburbs). So she gets a call from CPS. They decide to do a home visit and note her large display of alcohol in the living room (a bar), which led to further investigation even though she is only a social drinker and the bottles were mostly her boyfriend’s. She got repeat calls asking if she had been referred for alcohol counseling and more visits to check on her daughter

    1. One time I was up for the 5 year reinvestigation formy security clearance. The investigator kept asking me in 10 different ways how much I drink on a daily basis. Since my honest answers kept coming around to “maybe two beers with the guys after golf, because I have to drive home” and “maybe 2 fingers of smooth bourbon on Saturday night at home”, so not all that much.

      Later I recalled that I had put out my glass recycling bin that week for collection…which I do about once every 7 or 8 months because it takes that long to fill it up and it contained all the vodka bottles my live-in mother-in-law drinks.

  21. By the time my kids were 6, they were walking to school in the AM and their factory jobs afterwards then walked back home. And those are just the ones I have in Thailand.

    1. Seriously though, I was raised by a single mother who worked. Sometimes I wasnt picked up until 2 hours after school. I turned out (somewhat) fine. Helicopter non-parents are what are making things like this worse than they need to be.

  22. That’s what you get for putting your kid in CPS????‍♂️


  23. School dismisses at 4 p.m. There is a 30-minute grace period: After that, the school must alert the police and child protective services, according to district policy.

    Jesus H. Fucking Christ, when I lived in Dallas one couldn’t get even a few miles in less than an hour during peak traffic times (like say when school lets out) so I can only imagine the sheer volume of bullshit calls CPS and the cops have to deal with because of this one rule.

    Not that I’m a superfan of either agency, but no wonder enforcement is so spotty. This woman was basically the random case they decided to try and enforce that day, and they just so happened to choose one of their own to harass through sheer random chance.

    Which is sort of ironic, in a way, since this woman has no doubt had to make these exact kind of calls herself on other late parents in the past. It would be virtually impossible to think she had not.

    1. I used to live in Dallas too. My understanding is that the current over-the-top policy there is to shoot the kid. THAT sends a clear message to wannabee centerfolds in Negligent Mother Magazine!

  24. The article makes clear that she was actually 37 minutes late. There’s a 30 minute grace period, and she arrived 7 minutes after that.

    None of that excuses the policy. I am reminded of “Idiocracy”‘s scenes involving the “unfit mother”.

    But Reason would do well to report honestly.

  25. The same bureaucratic agency the reports parents for being late and treating them like potential deadbeats will also take that same child for transition therapy he said he was tired of his penis and wanted to be a girl.

  26. It is wrong for the school to complain against the mother only for 7 mins late
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  27. Wonder if the father she saw two days later was white?

  28. I used to walk home from school. What has happened in this country is gross over regulation. Fear for your kid? Pick him or her or they up. Otherwise butt out of my life.
    My grandkids ride bikes to school (when the damn thing is open) as a right of passage.

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