Parents Are Outraged by School Policy That Gives Kids Detention and Fines for Asking to Use the Bathroom

A South Carolina school is making headlines for its strict policy regarding bathroom passes.

As WBTW reports, students at Lamar High School in Darlington County could get school detention, suspension or get their parents a $25 fine—just for asking to use the restroom.

The policy, which is in the school planners, explains that once a student uses up their allotted four passes per quarter—yes, quarter—they could get punished.

According to Karen Konopasek, who spoke with WBTW, the consequences at hand become worse the more times a student asks for a pass. They include school suspension, in-school suspension (ISS), out-of-school suspension and then parents being fined. “I owe $25 to the school right now because my granddaughter just had a full day of ISS because of the bathroom pass,” Karen said.

Anthony Gale, who has four kids at the school, tells WBTW his daughter received a detention slip. He called the bathroom policy an “epidemic” and that “somebody needs to be active and somebody needs to say something to stop the madness.”

He also told ABC15 that four passes per quarter aren’t enough, particularly for female students, as “their needs also take a lot longer than casually being able to take care of that between classes.”

In a statement written by Darlington County Schools spokesperson Audrey Childers, and released to ABC15, the high school stood by their strict procedure and encouraged students to use the bathroom before and after school, during lunch and during five-minute class changes.

The statement revealed that the passes aren’t limited to using the bathroom while in class. If a student needs to leave a classroom for any reason, such as going to their locker, they’d need to use one of their passes for that too. Once a student runs out of passes he or she is still able to leave class—but must attend after school detention. And the only time a student might be exempt from the policy is if he or she has a doctor’s note indicating they need other accommodations.

The school said their almost-20-year-old bathroom-pass practice is “designed to help students stay in the classroom and reduce distractions” and “helps to foster responsibility and time-management skills while protecting classroom time.”

According to ABC15, the parents are meeting with the school on November 14, 2019.

This isn’t the first time a school’s bathroom policies have caused controversy. In August 2019, we covered a story about a teachers’ letter to parents encouraging them to train their first-graders to have “bladder endurance.”