A Tennessee father was arrested for disorderly conduct last week after objecting to an official school policy that apparently prohibited him from picking up his children on foot ahead of the majority of parents picking their children up in their cars.
The new student pick-up policy, which reportedly started last week, says that parents can only pick up their children after 2 p.m. by waiting in a line of cars until everyone is released at 2:35 p.m. In this particular case, the parent was walking, so it wouldn’t make much sense to wait in the line of cars.
As Jim Howe made his case to South Cumberland Elementary School Resource Officer Avery Aytes, the man’s fiancé recorded the entire exchange. In the roughly 6 minute discussion captured on video, Howe does not appear to seriously raise his voice or make any threatening gestures. It should be noted that there could be more to the video, however, the moment that Aytes arrests Howe appears to be shown in full context.
“I’m not raising my voice, I’m not confrontational, I want my kids,” Howe said in the YouTube video, later adding, “I can’t stand in line — I’m walking. Picking my kids up.”
“You’re trying to be difficult. You’re being childish,” Aytes replied.
Howe then referenced Tennessee state law and argued the school’s policy is illegal, further aggravating the school resource officer.
“School is out. My children are to be given to me,” the dad said.
“It doesn’t say when!” Aytes shot back. “School is out, they will give you your child, but it doesn’t say when now does it?”
“Tennessee state law says within a reasonable amount of time, that is 15 minutes,” Howe says in the video, seconds before being put in handcuffs.
“Put your hands behind you back!” Aytes said as he detained the father. “I’m not staying here and arguing with you. You’ve been disorderly.”
The officer then placed Howe in a police vehicle after threatening to arrest his fiancé as well if she blocks traffic while filming him.
Watch the full YouTube video below:
Cumberland County Sheriff Butch Burgess told WATE-TV Aytes was only doing his job by “enforcing the law.” However, the sheriff also said he agrees with the father on principle, saying the policy is creating safety concerns because it has created a line of cars along the highway outside of the school.
Burgess said he is reviewing the policy and will make some recommendations this week as to what changes should be made to ensure student safety.
Howe is outraged that he was arrested for trying to pick up his kids. He says he doesn’t need a reason to pick up his own kids from school.
“You don’t need a reason as a parent to go get your children. They are our children,” Howe told WATE-TV.