Originally created 03/08/06

School board might narrow release policy



Leaving school early in Columbia County might get a little tougher.

The school board is re-examining a policy allowing for a student's release to someone other than a parent. The board will vote on a revised policy at a Tuesday board meeting.

The policy revision comes in the wake of an incident at Greenbrier High School last month in which a 14-year-old girl was released to a 17-year-old boy who claimed to be her brother, officials say. School personnel released the girl to the boy without checking with her parents or his identification.

Later that day, the teens were found in a stairwell of the Augusta Mall by a security guard. The girl's pants were down, but there was no evidence that a sex act took place, according to a Richmond County sheriff's report.

The incident prompted school officials to take a closer look at the student release policy, said Assistant Superintendent Sandra Carraway.

"The policy was a bit ambiguous," she said. "Already, school personnel were supposed to be verifying with parents before children were released; not releasing to anyone but the custodial parent or people that they had indicated were allowed to pick up those children."

The revision states that students can only be released to a person other than their parent in emergency situations with written or oral permission from a parent or guardian. School officials must also verify a parental request for early dismissal and verify the identity of the person picking up a student.

If the board approves the revision, it will be e-mailed to school administrators to discuss with their staff and reviewed at the monthly principals' conference, Dr. Carraway said.

"It's all of our responsibility to ensure that when we release students to people that it is at the request of a parent," she said.

The teen who posed as the Greenbrier student's brother was charged March 3 with contributing to the delinquency of a minor by a Richmond County magistrate, according to court personnel. A Richmond County Board of Education tribunal recently ruled that the teen, who attends the Academy of Richmond County, would be assigned to alternative school should a warrant be issued against him. An e-mail inquiry to a school board spokeswoman on the status of the student was not immediately answered Tuesday.

Dr. Carraway said the female teen was disciplined but would not reveal the punishment.

Reach Donnie Fetter at 868-1222, ext. 113, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

PROPOSED REVISION



School officials shall not release students to individuals other than custodial parents or guardians. However, with written permission or at the verbal request of the custodial parent or guardian during emergency situations, the principal may release a student to a designated individual.When a request to release a student from school is made, school officials shall verify the authenticity of the dismissal request before releasing the student. If the identity of the individual picking up the student is not known, school officials should seek proper identification or consult with the custodial parent or guardian before releasing the student.