Parents upset after school letter threatens to send kids left late to DHS


The principal of a Salem elementary school did some major apologizing Thursday. Corina Valencia-Chavez said her staff sent out a letter to all parents saying the school will call the Oregon Department of Human Services if parents do not pick their kids up on time.

The third paragraph is where the school claims children must be picked up on time. If they aren't, the letter stated staff will call DHS and parents will have to pick their children up at court the next day.

The letter was sent out to Swegle Elementary School families at the end of June, and shocked many parents, including Chelsea Eichenauer, who is just getting ready to send her five-year-old off to kindergarten there.

Eichenauer said the thing that confused her the most was that there was no time frame given in the letter and worried the letter made it seem like parents that were a couple minutes late could face the school turning their child over to the state.

Eichenauer said she couldn't believe what she was reading, and was curious if other parents felt the same way. So she posted the letter to Facebook, and sure enough, parents agreed with her.

“It sounds extreme, very extreme,” she said. “My five-year-old [would be] so traumatized if he was taken away for the night, because I got a flat tire and was 15 minutes late picking him up.”

Her Facebook post got so much attention that the Salem Keizer School District got wind of it and called her to apologize. The district said the letter was sent out by without the review or approval of the principal, Valencia-Chavez.

A district spokesperson also said the letter should have explained it is important to pick up children up on time, and asked parents to call the school if something comes up that would prevent them from doing so, staff could wait with the child.

In addition to apologizing to Eichenauer, Valencia-Chavez sent out a phone message to all parents - apologizing about the letter.

The school's parent handbook states that a child must be picked up within 15 minutes of the end of the school day or activity.

Copyright 2015 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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