This School Called DCFS on a Mom and Teacher Because Her Son Was Picked Up 7 Minutes Late

JaNay Dodson, a Chicago Public Schools teacher and mom, was unable to pick up her 10-year-old son Braylin from Inter-American Magnet School in Lakeview earlier this month because she was teaching a class of her own. She called her brother, who left work and got Braylin for her. No harm, no foul—families help each other out of jams, right?

Wrong. Problem was, Inter-American Magnet School called DCFS because Dodson’s brother was seven minutes late, violating a new CPS “stranded child” policy set a month earlier, according to Block Club Chicago.  

Block Club breaks down the new policy: 

A CPS policy sent to all principals Feb. 5 states whenever a student who cannot travel home independently is stranded after school, staff should call the parent and all emergency contacts. Those people must be told the school will be obligated to call the Police Department and Department of Children and Family Services if the child is not picked up by 4:30 p.m.

Dodson’s brother arrived to get Braylin at 4:37 p.m. 

A couple days later, a DCFS investigator pulled Braylin, who has special needs, out of class to question him about the incident.

Other parents of special needs students and students of color said on Twitter that Dodson’s family is not alone in their experience.

Dodson says nobody from the school contacted her, which is a violation of the new policy’s requirements to attempt contact with guardians before calling DCFS. 

Now she says she worries that having her family in the DCFS system—even when the investigation finds no wrongdoing—will reflect negatively on her as she moves forward in her teaching career. 

A CPS spokesperson told Block Club they’re “aware of the circumstances of the incident and we are in the process of reviewing it.” 

Unknown is when that review will be completed, whether it will result in a negative mark on Dodson’s record, and whether Braylin will even want to return to class after all these disruptions—his mom says he went from being excited about returning to class amid the pandemic to not wanting to go at all. 

Seems like a lot of negativity to place on a 10-year-old’s shoulders when all he wants to do is learn in peace. 

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