A Tennessee dad was arrested for disorderly conduct when simply attempting to pick up his children early from school.
The father, Jim Howe, did not bring a weapon on the South Cumberland Elementary School campus, did not threaten anyone, and did not cause any type of scene. Howe walked to the school and was told he would have to wait in a line of cars until all the students were released, even though he was on foot.
He was arrested for disorderly conduct by South Cumberland Elementary School resource officer and sheriff deputy Avery Aytes, according to WATE-TV Howe’s fiancé recorded the entire incident, which included a 6-minute long conversation about the new school pickup policy. During the recorded exchange, the walking Tennessee father does not appear to make any type of threatening gesture or raise his voice significantly.
I’m not raising my voice, I’m not confrontational. I want my kids. I can’t stand in line [with the other cars.] I’m walking. Picking my kids up. School is out. My children are to be given to me.
During the incident Officer Aytes told Jim Howe that he was “difficult” and “childish.”
School is out, they will give you your child, but it doesn’t say when, now does it? … Put your hands behind your back. I’m not staying here arguing with you. You’ve been disorderly. I’m going to call some help down here and we’re going to take you up to the jail right now.
And just like that, a simple school pick-up turned into a cuffed and stuffed situation. According to the now viral video of the Tennessee Cumberland County School District arrest, the resource officer wanted Howe to sign a form to permit his children to walk unsupervised from school. The children are between the ages of 8 and 14 and are typically picked up by their parents.
The new school district pick-up policy reportedly has cause traffic to back up onto the road, creating what many parents believed was a hazard for both them and school buses.
Before he was abruptly placed in handcuffs, Howe cited Tennessee state law which reportedly states that children are to be released from school to their parents within a reasonable amount of time after the day ends, noting a 15-minute time frame. After he was placed in handcuffs, Howe asked the officer if he could give the house keys to his fiancé so the woman would not be locked out of the home, and the officer refused.
Cumberland County Sheriff Butch Burgess stated during an interview with local news station WATE-TV that officer Aytes was merely doing his job and enforcing the law. But, the sheriff also noted that in principle, he also agrees with Jim Howe. “On the other hand, the school system needs to realize you can’t make a black and white law.”
Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Donald Andrews defended both officer Aytes arrest of Jim Howe and the new pick up policy. Andrews stated all students that are deemed “walkers” are the last to be released from the school and placed in a “holding area.” “We aren’t running a dictatorship here,” the school official said when noting the district was willing to work with parents who have “special circumstances.”
After being released from jail, Jim Howe stated, “You don’t need a reason as a parent to go get your children. They are our children.” During an interview with local news media the Tennessee dad also said, “If not for policy, we would have chaos, and we don’t need chaos at the school. But we also don’t need an overzealous deputy setting an example in front of kids.”
The Tennessee father plans on fighting the disorderly conduct charges levied against him and considering filing a lawsuit over the arrest.
What do you think about the arrest of Jim Howe as South Cumberland Elementary School?