Parents concerned about kindergarten students kept in cages | KOB 4
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Parents concerned about kindergarten students kept in cages

Faith Egbuonu
August 16, 2019 07:42 PM

CARLSBAD, N.M. — Some parents are concerned about a student safety policy in Carlsbad. 

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"You see something like that and it's just frightening. It makes you wonder what's going on when you're not there," Morales said. 

Morales' 5-year-old son just started school at Early Childhood Education Center in Carlsbad. She said she was in shock at what she witnessed last week. 

"I went to go pick my son up from school," Morales said. "I noticed they had the children in cages."

School officials said the purpose of the cages is to create a safe environment for student dismissal. However, Morales believes it puts children's safety and health at risk. 

"It's putting them in danger, it's putting their little bodies in danger," Morales said. "They can get heat exhaustion... so many different things, like dehydration." 

Pickup times at the school are at 2:10 p.m. and 2:25 p.m., but Morales is concerned about the parents who are still at work during that time. 

"The kids that aren't picked up on time, they aren't allowed to be taken inside until 2:45... so that's 20 to 30 minutes of them standing out there in the heat, waiting to be picked up by their parent," Morales said. "That's completely unsafe. That's a large amount of time for a child to be out, exposed to the heat, even in the shade."

Carlsbad's Superintendent Gerry Washburn said statements about how long children are in cages in the heat are false. 

Washburn told KOB 4 in a statement: 

“The assertions that kindergarten students at our Early Childhood Education Center are in cages in the hot sun for 30 to 40 minutes at dismissal are categorically false. The Central Office Team, including myself, spent three days at dismissal working with staff to create a parent pickup plan for the 600 students attending school ECEC. The plan keeps students safe in shaded areas for approximately 15 minutes or less. The plan also creates an orderly dismissal process, significantly reduces parent wait times and reduces traffic backups on State Road 524. We are also only in the 7th day of school, so we believe the process will become even better as parents, staff and students become familiar with dismissal procedures. We will continue to refine and improve the plan as issues come up. The parent complaints are indicative of the frustration everyone in Carlsbad experiences on a daily basis traveling on roads designed for 28,000 people, not the 40 or 50 thousand people we currently have in our community. Additionally, the instructional configuration of our schools is resulting in overcrowding, long bus rides and other logistical issues directly affecting the learning process. Resolving these issues will require additional capital expenditures and time. Our team is working hard with the community to develop solutions to these problems. We look forward to making our case to the community for long-term solutions to the many growth related issues our schools live with on a daily basis.”

However, Morales still feels uneasy. 

"You just want to know that your child is safe when they're not with you," she said. 

Credits

Faith Egbuonu

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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