Voltaire Was Right (About Elementary School Pickup Procedures)

3 ¾ min

You may recall the saga of the South Carolina mom who granted her kids—nine, 10, and 11—permission to walk the mile home from school together, without her. 

School officials refused to release them to do this, on the grounds that a nearby intersection (with walk/don't walk signals) is too dangerous. This particular mom's kids happen to cross it at other times, unaccompanied, on their way to and from extracurriculars.           

And has the school never heard of crossing guards?        

No matter. The children were required to be picked up by an approved adult. If not, they would have to take the school bus.          

The mom, Jessie Thompson, didn't understand why it was up to the school to decide what her kids did after leaving school property. She offered to sign a liability waiver. This did not move the needle, and the issue came to a head this past week.           

I'll let Thompson, a surgical neurophysiologist (she monitors a patient's nervous system during surgery), take it from here. In an email with the subject line, "It's Over!" she wrote:         

Hi Lenore, Just wanted to give you the final update. We quit. I pulled the kids and I'm homeschooling. The school was making me go into the office to show my ID at dismissal. That worked for a time, until one day I forgot my ID. When the secretary (who has known me for three years) said to me that she couldn't let me take the kids, I responded, 'Just try to keep my kids from me' and then told my kids to exit the office. My kids stood there, not knowing whether to listen to THEIR MOTHER or the secretary. I had to ask them twice to exit. That was the day I stole my kids from their school, because after all, the school has the primary authority and I, the parent, am only so lucky to be given access to the kids when the school allows.

The next day, my kids were all held in their classrooms until I showed my ID (to the same woman who has known me for three years), at which time she called each classroom individually to tell the teachers they could release the kids.           

The following day, I refused to show my ID until they dismissed my kids, per the usual dismissal routine, and did not hold my kids hostage in order to play games with me. They called the police. I had about a 30-40 min interaction with two police officers, almost being arrested at one point. I was successful that day, as the police instructed the office secretary to dismiss my kids and then I showed my ID before leaving with them. The officers informed me that if I did the same thing the following day that I would be arrested.          

And so for the next two weeks, the school held my kids in their classrooms, hostage, until I, their mother, showed my ID to a secretary who has a three-year history with me.            

My attorney was unable to have that stop and I just couldn't take it anymore. This lawsuit was going to cost us $10-15k. So my homeschool journey begins.         

Wish me luck!

Thanks for your help. It was quite a ride.


I do wish Jessie luck. Her case has me thinking about Voltaire's observation: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."     

The absurdity here is not just that kids can't cross a street by themselves. It's also that the mom picking up her kids must show proof that she is the person everyone knows she is. As if the ID is more reliable than her own kids saying, "Hi, mom!"     

And the cruelty is that those school rules allow the secretary—and cops—to torment the mom while claiming this is just for safety's sake. Rules created to protect kids from imaginary or inflated dangers give bureaucrats a bayonet ... and instructions on how to aim for the heart.          



Dear Readers,

Big Tech is suppressing our reach, refusing to let us advertise and squelching our ability to serve up a steady diet of truth and ideas. Help us fight back by becoming a member for just $5 a month and then join the discussion on Parler @CharlemagneInstitute!

Image Credit: 


Lenore Skenazy

Lenore Skenazy is president of Let Grow, a contributing writer at and author of Has the World Gone Skenazy?

Add a Comment


Join the conversation...

You are currently using the BETA version of our article comments feature. You may notice some bugs in submission and user experience. Significant improvements are coming soon!


Rowana F
Wow. I think what shocks me the most is when the police said they'd arrest the parent next time. Arrest her for what, exactly? (ID's can be forged, but a stranger could not forge the mother's face. Since the "adults" at the school had known the mother for years, what "danger" were they guarding the kids against?) It should be the school admins who would be arrested if they ever again held the kids hostage to their absurd policies. I hope this mother continues homeschooling permanently. She and her children will all be much better off to be free of the massive and braindead bureaucracy that controls schools nowadays.


Hopefully draconian practices like that will encourage more and more parents that it's in the students best interest NOT to be part of the public education system. If the parents don't know what is being taught in the class at least they can see how ridiculous the puffed-up bureaucrats are in defending their little fiefdom.


A combination of State authorities wanting to control (just that, "control" in general), and bureaucrats wanting to avoid any liability ("but if something happens, we could be held liable") leads to this kind of overreach by state actors who should NOT be deluded into believing they have this kind of power. Unfortunately, their delusions are reinforced by elected and appointed officials who thrive on power plays like this. It is a revolting reflection of contemporary American society.


Big JiLm
I no longer respect law enforcement, they are just nazi brown shirts and the less you interact with them the better. I no longer care if they get shot, injured own anything else. Screw cops...


If it wasn't for their "PENSIONS" , government employees would do what's right, instead of obeying orders from idiots.