Detention for Kindergarten Tardiness?

A Texas kindergarten student named Brooke from Olympia Elementary School was subjected to two days of lunch detention due to being tardy.  This specifically means that the child sat facing a wall by herself.  On the surface, this probably sounds absolutely ridiculous to a lot of my readers.  This post is going to take an honest look though at the specifics of the case and determine if the school was wrong in punishing the child.

The first thing that needs to be addressed is that there are two sides to the story.  The parents basically argued that they have a young baby and that the new routine is an adjustment.  The school would argue that tardiness is an important issue and students need to be at school on time. It’s also important to note that this is a district policy which was being enforced.  Let’s evaluate both sides starting with the parents.  I encourage any readers to comment at the bottom and tell me where I am misguided.

Possible Parents Point of View:  All parents have challenges.  In my case, I despise getting up at 6:10am in order to get my child up and ready for school (but I digress). This is a kindergarten child so there should be a bit of flexibility depending on how late the child showed up to school.  It was also stated the child was late for a couple of days.  Assuming I take this literally, two days of tardiness is not a lot.  Shouldn’t there be some potential leeway?  Couldn’t a conference with the parents happen before the punishment takes place?  Maybe after that point, a punishment could be more justified.  What if, for example, a parent hits unexpected traffic when going to school.  Should there be a detention assessed for that?

Schools Point of View:  It’s not uncommon for a school aged child to have a new sibling.  Certainly, it’s still important for these students to get to school on time. District policies are announced before the school year begins.  Parents need to understand that district policies are going to be enforced and that their child is not going to be the exception.  Since the policy was implemented, tardiness has gone down by 90% in the district.  In essence, learning time is maximized which is for the good of all students.  Schools have the charge of teaching a lot of material and every minute is critical.

Evaluation by your humble blogger:  As a former teacher, I understand that tardiness is an important issue which can be severe in certain places.  I found it interesting that lunch takes an entire hour.  I’ve never heard of a school which took an hour for lunch.  Therefore, I’m wondering if recess (or something else) is included.

The second thing that came to my mind is that the school is punishing a child for a parent’s actions.  Usually, a punishment is given to a child to teach a lesson to that child.   I wonder if the 6 year old punished really understood why she was being punished.  My thought is that I really doubt it- especially considering how long the punishment takes.

Therefore, is it all right for a school to punish a parent? Though my first thought is no, I would hate to see a policy banished which helped drop student tardiness by 90%.  I could get behind the district if the  punishment was a little less for a kindergartener.  For example, I could see taking a minute of recess for each minute the child was late.

What was really interesting though was that the father said that he was sorry and it wasn’t going to happen again.  That tells me that the policy worked.  Olympia Elementary School and the district certainly ruffled some feathers but sometimes that is what it takes for change to happen.    For more information on this article, click the link at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for stopping by.  If you are a fan of Facebook, stop by and see me at claytonpaulthomas.  Love using Twitter?  I can be found @adad2trust.  Best wishes to you and your family!

Link to the article:








  1. Lauren says:

    I like the idea of a minute of lost recess for each minute of being late. I think the child would relate to that more and would tell their parents they did not want it to happen again.

  2. Sarah Jane says:

    Unfortunately the district has to be consistent on policies. With many parents you can give them a “slap on the hand” time after time, but the disregard continues. That’s why the policies are in place. Could the matter with the child have been handled differently? Absolutely. Was the school wrong in being consistent with the issue? Absolutely not. Children become products of their environment and sadly kids learn to have a non chalant attitude if their parents do as well. Therefore it seems in this scenario the message became clear and hopefully the actions change for all involved.

    • claytonthomas says:

      Sarah- I completely see your point and part of me feels the same way. The policy has worked well for the district. An hour though is a long time to sit for any punishment though which is where I am a bit conflicted. You cannot argue with the results though. In the end, students benefit from being at school on time!

  3. Christine Meugniot says:

    Why punish the child for the parent's mistake? The child is 6. She can't drive or hail a taxi. The responsibility and fault is the parents. They should have been called in for a conference. All the child knows is she got in trouble for something that wasn't her fault. Sad sad sad

    • claytonthomas says:

      Christine- The question you ask is the crux of the matter. "Why punish the child for the parent's mistake?" Is it worth it to send a stiff message to parents by using the 6 year old child who clearly does not understand what is going on? Let me ask this another way. Does the age of the child matter? Most middle school students (who are car riders) cannot make it to school on their own. Should those students be punished for their tardiness? Is it ever ok to punish a parent's mistake by using their child?

  4. Vashti Quiroz-Vega says:

    Hello Clayton! Thank you so much for stopping by my FB fan page. I subscribed via email. Great blog!


  5. FeliciaE25 says:

    I think an hour time out is overly aggressive for a six year old but I applaud the school for sticking to the district policies. have six year old myself and am dreading the start of school next year because she is a full blown teenager trapped in a little girls six year old self. She can sleep in and drag her feet with the best of them!

    I can remember being late once because we got stuck in traffic. When my mother tried to explain this to the sectary (high school) we were told flat out this is why we have buses, and she was right. That's what buses are for, to get a child of any age to school on time. If a parent is always late dropping their child off then the ride situation needs to have a second look taken. Like you I am also curious at the usage of a couple of days by the article.

    As far as if this was using the child to punish the parent, I think it depends on why the child was late. Was it truly the parents fault or (as I fear happening lol) was the parent standing at the door tapping his foot trying to hurry the child on while the child was dragging around. In the case of the latter I think it's more than appropriate for the child to be punished (again not so severely for that age) as I can see it teaching the child to not drag around so much.

  6. Clayton says:

    Hi Felicia- you brought up a lot of good points. There is no doubt that there are questions which linger. Who really knows if it had to do with the baby or the child? In the end though, parents still had the responsibility to have the child at school on time. If the child is the type that "drags the feet" a bit too much, parents have to deal with the behavior, wake the child earlier, or in this case- deal with the consequences. I still think the end of the article was telling when the father said the tardiness wasn't going to happen again. Obviously, whatever the problem entails, he thinks it is correctable. By the way, good luck with your child next year. I have a six year old who will be starting school as well this fall. It will be bittersweet but a whole lot of fun!!!