Early childhood students in the Westfield public schools can have a designated escort pick them up in certain circumstances, under a policy recently adopted by the Board of Education.
The BOE voted to allow parents of students ranging from kindergarten to third grade to request that their students only be dismissed to them or another designated adult during the course of the school year. The policy is not aimed at every family in the district, but rather at families with "unique circumstances." For example, a parent/guardian might not want her child to walk home alone or be able to leave school grounds with another adult.
According to the policy, parents wishing to take advantage of the service must fill out two forms: one identifying themselves, their children, and their designated escorts, and another acknowledging that they have received and reviewed the school calendar—as parents and escorts must be aware of holidays and four hour sessions.
Students covered under the policy will have to released to the same escorts on a daily basis and the parents cannot ask for one day exemptions to the rule. Schools Superintendent Margaret Dolan said this will allow school administrators keep better track of the students who parents have asked to be released to one or two adults.
At Tuesday evening's meeting, BOE member Rich Mattesich asked if it was enough to supply the district calendar online, however the policy mandates that a printed calendar be sent to all parents in the district. The parents requesting the policy will be presented with a single sheet calendar produced by the school district covering days off and half day sessions. This will replace the traditional wall calendar that was eliminated as a result of budget cuts in March.
At dismissal time, their children will be brought to a special area of the building where pick-up can be done solely by the designated escorts. If pick-up does not occur within 15 minutes of dismissal, any remaining children will be placed in the YMCA after-care program either on site at the school or - in the case of Franklin School students - at the YMCA on Clark St. Parents will be charged any associated fees.
Students who attend Lincoln School and get bused to their neighborhood elementary school can be placed in supervised dismissal at the elementary school.
A parental request at the beginning of the school year to enact the policy applies for the whole school year. Even a note from a parent saying the child will go home with someone else cannot supersede the policy; the child will still only be released to a designated escort.
However, if a parent no longer feels supervised dismissal is necessary, he/she can submit a written letter to the principal indicating the date in which service is to be terminated; the principal will acknowledge the reception of the letter. The letter will need to be supplied to the principal at least 48 hours prior to the change taking effect.