Sept. 11, 2012. Concerning the topic of “student safety,” the Watauga County Board of Education approved a motion on Monday night that requires elementary and middle school children to have an adult chaperon at Watauga High School athletic events.
WHS Principal Marshall Gasperson, who had previously discussed this issue with Supt. David Kafitz before the regular scheduled meeting, requested this motion after witnessing parents dropping off their younger kids at the football games unattended.
He said upwards of 300 kids have been dropped off during games unaccompanied by a parent or adult and that “supervision is bordering on being a safety issue.”
He added that, for lack of a better word, kids are “frolicking” around the athletic events and loitering around the concession stands without purchasing any snacks or drinks. He mentioned that the large number of rowdy kids is discouraging folks from patronizing the concession stands.
Gasperson said that an elderly woman was recently knocked down by a “flying fifth grader” whose parents weren’t present to correct the student’s behavior. Gasperson said there are times he has to wait around until midnight waiting on parents to pick up their children.
Kafitz said he supported this motion, adding that he has attended all of the ballgames and has had to monitor the kids near the concessions stands who are causing a distraction.
“It is taking away from the atmosphere,” Kafitz said. “People are not patronizing the concession stands, if I am correct, in what [Gasperson] shared with me, sales are down there because people don’t feel like they can comfortably come down from the stands.”
“As superintendent I am very concerned for the safety of these children,” Kafitz said. “It’s dark close to the start of the game. It’s dark at the end of the game. These kids are just wandering who knows where, to be picked up by who knows who. I think we owe it to our community to hold ourselves to a higher level of responsibility for people who come to the games.”
Board Member Steve Combs said this issue has come up before in the past and that he doesn’t feel its the Watauga County Schools responsibility to “provide daycare for other people’s kids” at these events.
This motion only pertains to students in eighth grade or lower. Kafitz noted that the high school students have “behaved remarkably well.” There was talk of having an area for just the younger children, but Gasperson said that would be considered “confinement.”
The board directed personnel to send out an alert immediately to parents and before games in the future as a reminder.