MAGNOLIA (FOX 26) - Pick your child up from school and you could be charged with trespassing. That's the threat against parents at Bear Branch Elementary School in Magnolia ISD. This is the school's tactic to keep parents who live close to the school from walking on school grounds.
Bear Branch is losing students over this pick up policy, that's been in place since the beginning of this school year. The principal has decided that no matter how close the student lives to the school, the student must either take the bus, or the parent must wait in a long car pickup line. Try to walk your student off the campus and you could face criminal charges.
"She's threatening to arrest people," says Wendy Jarman about principal, Holly Ray.
Jarman pulled her children out of the school Monday and placed them in private school. She lives in the neighborhood behind the school. Her kids were walkers, and she escorted them, but they can't do that anymore.
Ray won't allow it. Ray has gotten Montgomery County Constables to be her enforcers.
"This has happened to many parents," Jarman says. "They have been cited. They have been threatened, if they step one foot on school property, they will be arrested and charged with who knows what."
Frank Young has one of those warnings. He also lives close to the school and he also pulled his children out of it. Young says no effort to negotiate a better policy or even hundreds of signatures on a petition got the district to change the policy or bully tactics.
"Mrs. Ray's policy is implying that a parent doesn't have the ability or capabiity to decide what is safest for her children and that the school district does," Young says. "I disagree."
The school district responded to our request for comment with a statement fully supporting Principal Ray, saying the goal is a safe dismissal process.
But parents who have been coming to the school for years say there was nothing unsafe about the old pickup and drop off procedures. They say this is simply a principal overstepping her boundaries.
Young says some parents are just going along with the principal to keep peace, but he says not speaking up allows a poisonous environment to fester.
"The most toxic thing we can do for our kids is not fight for truth and justice," Young says.
Fox26 knows of 2 other parents who were just threatened with arrest. They are not ready to speak about it publicly yet. But other parents told us the principal's "my way or else" tactics go deeper than the dismissal process. Parents say not only are students leaving because of it, but teachers and staff are leaving the school, too.