A friend shared a news story on Facebook that begins:

Walking your child to and from school in Magnolia, Texas can now end in your extortion through fines and even jail time thanks to a new policy implemented by the school’s principal. Bear Branch Elementary School parents have done some hard learning since the year began about the relationship between schools and the American police state after they were told they will be charged with trespassing for walking their own children onto school grounds.

Searching for that text brings up many hits on domains like thefreethoughtproject.net, trueactivist.com, truththeory.com etc. I couldn't find anything on Snopes nor on any regular paper using a subset of the keywords. There is a Bear Branch elementary school in Magnolia Texas, and it does appear their arrival and dismissal instructions involve only parents who are driving, and require a "driver tag" on the car to identify what student (or learner, as the web site calls them) belongs in what car. They also forbid letting the child out of the car early to cross the road alone. So there may be a grain of truth in it.

There is nothing on the website to say "you can't walk your kids" nor "oh lordy that article is such a lie, go ahead and walk your kids." So, will the school charge parents with trespassing if they walk the kids to school?

Tl;dr version: The school policy change notice did emphasize that

For safety reasons, parents will no longer be allowed to walk to the front of the school to retrieve students on foot. This will ensure all of our students get home safely.

Only one written trespassing warning is confirmed and the school says it was given to prevent harassment and physical threats by a parent who disagreed with this change in policy. Four parents are confirmed to have withdrawn their children invoking this change in school policy.

This old notice does disagree with the current school website, but I cannot tell what happened after the relatively brief news media interest from last year. Someone truly determined might want to call the school and ask them.


The story has been reported by Fox26:

MAGNOLIA (FOX 26) - Pick your child up from school and you could be charged with trespassing. That's the threat against parents at Bear Branch Elementary School in Magnolia ISD. This is the school's tactic to keep parents who live close to the school from walking on school grounds.

[...]

"She's threatening to arrest people," says Wendy Jarman about principal, Holly Ray.

Jarman pulled her children out of the school Monday and placed them in private school. She lives in the neighborhood behind the school. Her kids were walkers, and she escorted them, but they can't do that anymore.

Ray won't allow it. Ray has gotten Montgomery County Constables to be her enforcers.

"This has happened to many parents," Jarman says. "They have been cited. They have been threatened, if they step one foot on school property, they will be arrested and charged with who knows what."

Frank Young has one of those warnings. He also lives close to the school and he also pulled his children out of it. Young says no effort to negotiate a better policy or even hundreds of signatures on a petition got the district to change the policy or bully tactics.

[...]

The school district responded to our request for comment with a statement fully supporting Principal Ray, saying the goal is a safe dismissal process.

Fox26 knows of 2 other parents who were just threatened with arrest. They are not ready to speak about it publicly yet. But other parents told us the principal's "my way or else" tactics go deeper than the dismissal process. Parents say not only are students leaving because of it, but teachers and staff are leaving the school, too.

Almost everything else I found on the web has been based on this report... An exception is one "red hot conservative" site (which--fair warning--also has climate change denial statements) hosting an image of a trespass notice given by Montgomery County Constables to a Young, Francis Benjamin III, with the offence location stated as Magnolia Independent School District.

That Fox26 news coverage is from April 5, 2016 and the trespass warning image puts it a year before (2015).

There was a follow up (or rather rebuttal) story in San Angelo NOW two days after the Fox26 report:

Houston’s FOX26 reported students are leaving the school because of the policy which is causing all students to take the bus or have parents wait in line for an hour to pick them up.

[...]

In a letter to Bear Branch parents, district superintendent Dr. Todd Stephens, said this week, the story of the school’s afternoon dismissal procedures has returned to the spotlight with rumors of the district arresting parents, teacher resigning from the school and students being withdrawn. Stephens said the purpose of his letter, issued Wednesday, was to communicate facts and dispel rumors.

Stephens said no parent has been arrested for wanting to pick up their child and walk home. In the letter, Stephens said that a couple of parents have received letters from the district delivered by the county constable’s office reminding them of the policy as “their actions were deliberately disrupting the end of day release process.”

He said law enforcement became involved last fall because one parent (who was not named in the letter) disrupted the school day, verbally harassing and physically threatening a staff member in front of both students and other staffers. He added the Magnolia ISD does not tolerate that type of unruly behavior that creates an environment of fear for staff and threatens the safety of students. That parent was not charged with a crime but was issued a trespass warning not allowing them to return to campus for the remainder of the year.

[...]

He added that of the 12 withdrawals from Bear Branch, six were prior to the beginning of the school year, two were unrelated and four are directly related to the change in policy.


I see that in contrast to that letter-like notice from the beginning of my answer, the school website page (currently) doesn't carry that bold warning, so they might have changed their minds, or the web site was never updated either way... etc. Archive.org carries a single snapshot of that school page, which is alas from Aug 27 this year and it's obviously different from the current/live version of that page, the snapshot being much longer, but event that longer snapshot doesn't have the instructions that triggered the controversy. Given that the school website uses non-friendly ASP URLs, it's hard to tell whether last year's instructions were stored at the same URL or elsewhere. And the school also doesn't bother to date their web pages (or their letter-like notices.)

I wasn't able to find news coverage on whether the school has reversed/changed policy in the meantime.

  • What's not quite clear from your answer, but is clear from reading the policy change notice you linked to, is that the key point is that the school wants parents to remain in/with their vehicles. "Students will no longer be dismissed to the front sidewalk. We ask that parents picking their child/children up remain in their cars in the car rider line. For safety reasons, parents will no longer be allowed to walk to the front of the school to retrieve students on foot. This will ensure all of our students get home safely." (Emphasis mine). – SQB Nov 12 at 12:52

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