A Tennessee school district recently demonstrated what happens when citizens concede too much authority to local civic institutions. When Jim Howe arrived on foot at 2:00 p.m. on November 14 to pick up his two children attending South Cumberland Elementary School in Crossville, Tennessee, he was told that a new policy mandated that students may leave at that time only if their parents arrive at school in a vehicle to pick them up. Howe was told that he would have to wait until 2:35, when the other students had left, to escort his kids home.
With traffic backed up on a busy highway as parents waited to pick up their kids, Howe and his fiancée, Jennifer Long, decided to pick up the two kids, ages eight and 14, on foot rather than wait in the long line of traffic. As shown on a YouTube video shot by Long, when Howe showed up at the school office, local sheriff's deputy and school “resource officer” Avery Aytes belligerently threatened to arrest him after Howe pointed out that the school couldn't legally keep him from his kids.
“I’m going to call some help down here and we’re going to take you up to the jail right now,” Aytes shouted. “I’m not putting up with this today. You’re being childish and it’s uncalled for.”
In the video an office attendant can be seen offering a form for Howe to sign that would allow his kids to walk home by themselves, but Howe politely refuses, explaining that he intends to accompany them home.
As Howe calmly explains that state law requires the school to release students within 15 minutes of the end of the school day, and that officials may not keep him from his own children, an increasingly agitated Deputy Aytes threatens Howe with arrest for disorderly conduct.
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