75% of the teachers I've spoken to have experienced an intoxicated parent arriving to pick up their child
I have spoken to many groups of directors and early education teachers over the years. In each of those meetings I’ve asked if the individuals have ever had the experience of an intoxicated parent arriving at school to pick up their child. Consistently at least 75% of the hands go up, indicating that yes, that teacher has had such an experience.
Surely the danger to the child is the biggest concern. You spend all day protecting the children in your care. It naturally follows that you want the children to be safe while they are out of your care with their parents or guardians. Unfortunately, you cannot control parents actions with their children when they are away from your school. Can you control their actions when they arrive at your school already displaying the danger?Before we answer that question, let us also consider the danger to your school. The intoxicated parent can fall and hurt themselves on your property because of their intoxication. You can be held responsible for their medical bills solely because they fell on your property. Even more serious than the parent potentially injuring themselves is the risk that the parent will be involved in an auto accident and the child will be hurt as a result. In this case our court system has repeatedly held the school responsible for releasing the child to an obviously intoxicated parent.
The easy answer to the problem is to refuse to release the child to the intoxicated parent, right? Because nothing is ever easy, the legal answer is no. If you refuse to release a child to a parent or legal guardian you are now guilty of kidnapping which is a federal criminal offense.
So how do you balance these competing legal issues? First, you accept that you cannot control the actions of parents. Second, you develop a plan with all your staff members. The goal of the plan is to know in advance that you and your co-workers will work together to stall the parent while the police are called to your school.
You can achieve this outcome by establishing a code word. When any staff member says that particular code word, all staff members within earshot know you’ve got an intoxicated parent and the police need to be called. It is vitally important that whoever calls the police notify them that you are a preschool and a young child is endangered by this parent. They will respond more quickly with that information. While you are waiting for the police to arrive keep the parent distracted with conversation about their child’s activities, upcoming events, appetite or take time looking for the child’s belongings.
Call Block Insurance 800-225-0863.