Barrier Signage

school sign saying your child is now tardy

On Monday we got a little taste of spring around here with sunny skies and highs around 60°. Returning to winter temps and a dusting of snow the days after.

And I took advantage of the brief hit of nice weather to go for a long walk that afternoon, passing by both the local elementary school and a secondary school1 in the area.

In front of both, prominently displayed near the student drop-off lane, was the sign shown at the top.

This poster is nothing new, or unique. Schools here in the overly-large school district started putting them out before I made my exit from the system and I have seen them in front of many buildings during my travels around the system.

And that sign has always bothered me. Specifically, the language used and the way the message is conveyed.

“Your Child Is Now Tardy!” Bold face, exclamation point! As if accusing the parent of making this happen by choice. Instead of the more likely scenario that something just didn’t go the way it was planned.

Life happens but it’s your fault that we now have to accommodate your child’s tardiness.

The second part is appropriate. We certainly don’t want the parent to just drop the child on the sidewalk and drive off, especially at an elementary school.

But the choice of wording and emphasis is also nastier than it needs to be. Not at all suggesting the parent would be welcome inside. Although at least they said “please”.

Am I reading too much into this simple sign? Do parents bringing their tardy child to school read it differently than someone just walking past? I wonder how the kids themselves interpret the message.

I know criticizing something simple like this sign is rather picky, but it all comes back to how schools communicate with parents, kids, and the community.

And this strikes me as more of a barrier between parent and school than it does a connector.

1. A secondary school in the overly-large school district is one building housing grades 7-12. The one in our area is the smallest of the three with about 3100 students total. The largest is around 4400.

2 Comments Barrier Signage


    I would be pissed as a parent if I saw this sign. I was always shocked by how educations uses shaming as a way to enforce rule – hot lunch non-payment, overdue library books, uncharged or brokend Chromebooks, etc. What mean spirited individual makes these decisions?

  2. Jennifer

    One of the slides in my encienda today was a bathroom pass that says, “I am missing an important educational experience to use the restroom.” Wow. Because apparently the need to pee is something kids should never feel.


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