Parking Lot Problems Part 2

The following is the second part in a two-part series on Talawanda High School’s parking lot issues.  Part 1 can be found at:

Smoking, fading numbers, speeding and dangerous antics. These are a few things you will spot in the Talawanda High School parking lot both before and after school. Many students are concerned and scared that they are unsafe in the school’s parking lots. Due to all of these things occuring around them while they are trying to leave to go home or just when they are walking out to get stuff from their car.

As students leave out the cafeteria doors and the parking lot comes into view they will be greeted by the sight of speedy cars, students driving with their door open, and students jumping into the bed of moving trucks. Students will walk out in front of the fast-moving cars as if the car coming at them does not exist.  Some will even just stare at it as they walk in front of it.

If you are a driver trying to head home after a long day of school, you are likely to find that your car is blocked by a large group of students, and most of those groups are smoking or giving a juul to one another. A sophomore who drives to school with her sister said she sees many kids smoking: “I see it a lot, everyday. I see it more in the morning than the end of the day  because the teachers aren’t in the parking lot. There will be groups of kids standing off to the side.” You will also see these groups standing in the middle of the lane where cars are supposed to be driving, but are usually sitting there waiting for the kids to move, and are receiving strange looks for trying to leave. The sophomore said that she has seen every single one of these problems: “I see people standing in the road. I’ve seen them Juuling in the parking lot. I’ve seen them do stupid stuff. Mostly talking in the middle of the parking lot.”

Then there is a problem with the parking spots themselves — many are losing their numbers or have no number at all due to them being completely faded away. I asked students about their parking spots and many said that they are fading or completely gone. Those whose spots are fading say they use the cars around them to figure out where their spot it. There was also a complaint by a senior who said that she has seen crooked parking spots, and that her parking spot is one of them.

I decided to ask Mr. York, Talawanda High School’s Principal, about the problems that are being seen at the school and to see if administration is already aware and doing, or planning to do, something about it.  I first asked if if he had heard any of the following problems: speeding, smoking/vaping, kids jumping onto moving cars, or the parking lot numbers.

“I know that people speeding in the parking lot has always been an issue. If there is not an adult watching, they are always going to speed. Over the years we’ve been out there while the speeding is taking place, few people who have burned out, or squealed their tires, and I have caught them doing it. Parking at school is a privilege. When we know something is going on we have cameras so we can look,” York said.

This lead to me asking both Mr. York and Officer Butler, the school’s resource officer, if they looked at the cameras and Officer Butler said, “We look back at the footage weekly.”

I then asked about if they had seen students jumping into the backs of moving trucks and Officer Butler gave both an answer and maybe also a warning.

“This could result in your car being towed.” He also mentioned that they had to “investigate a case where kids were jumping onto moving cars and riding around.”  

I also learned that they could use footage from the cameras to look for evidence of speeding, “truck jumping” or other dangerous behavior.

When I brought up the issue of students smoking and vaping Mr. York mentioned how they have caught a few kids: “We by accident catch vapers daily.”  Officer Butler, who according to Mr. York has been the first officer we have had work with traffic, has hope that students are thinking of their decisions more. “I have heard from students that they second guess their decisions about bringing things to school.”

I also had some questions about students speeding and Mr. York was surprised by somethings that have occurred already: “Unbelievably we have seen wooden posts have been ran over, and some stop signs as well.”

He even tells us how they had poured concrete where grass use to be because students have torn up the grass that used to be there throwing mud everywhere. They have fixed that issue and when I asked about repainting the parking lot Mr. York informed me it depends on the budget. “It’s a budget thing, that the folks who do our maintenance for painting have, it’s a schedule budget.”

Then when I asked about why students don’t often see Talawanda staff out watching the parking lot his answer was: “There are only four Talawanda staff that can do that, teachers by contract do not have to do that, I can’t assign them to. Teachers come to teach not control parking lots. We have limited duties we can give teachers.” Though he mentioned that teachers could volunteer to do these things and that many teachers volunteered to work the student drop off at the beginning of the year due to some traffic issues.