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Asking on behalf of a friend of mine. Here's the situation:

They live far enough away from the school to make it inconvenient, but not impractical, for her eight-year-old daughter to walk. Usually the girl gets a ride with a friend, but when the friend isn't going in that day, she walks to school. But the school won't let her walk home, citing the standard, amorphous "policy." This is a source of great frustration and stress, because my friend has somewhat restricted mobility, and her husband has their only car, and he's off at work at the time.

It seems to me that this isn't just an annoying policy, but an illegal one. Under US law, doesn't holding someone against their will without a warrant constitute false imprisonment or something along those lines? If a policy like this is in place, as it mostly likely is, to prevent the school from being sued if anything goes wrong on the walk home, then would a hint that she is well aware that this is not legal and is not willing to tolerate it be likely to do any good? Or does the school have some ground to stand on here?

(Trying to tag this "school, legal", but apparently "legal" doesn't exist and I don't have the rep on this site to create a new tag. Can someone with more rep fix it?)

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Tagged for you. Added safety, figuring that this is probably the cloak that the school is hiding behind. If that's not the case or you disagree, I'll remove it. –  afrazier Apr 11 '11 at 21:05
    
@Afrazier: No, that's fine. Thanks. –  Mason Wheeler Apr 11 '11 at 21:07
    
I don't know about the legality of the issue as far as the school not allowing it, but depending on the streets she is walking on (strictly within a neighorhood or crossing/along) major and what the area is like safety-wise, it could represent a child-endangerment issue and the mother could be opening herself up to trouble that way. I will check with a social worker friend and see if she has input on that score. –  Kevin Apr 11 '11 at 21:48
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This seems both localized and off-topic. The answer will differ across different countries, states, and even cities. It also doesn't really have anything to do with parenting, and is more of a basic legal question that is better suited in a legal forum. I vote to close this question. –  Javid Jamae Apr 12 '11 at 3:17
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As much as I like the question and am curious about the "right answer", I'm afraid that Javid has a point, especially about being too localized. I can't imagine what you're describing happening in any European country. The school wouldn't be legally responsible for the walk home, and there's no such thing as a school transportation department in the 4 EU countries I've lived in. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 13 '11 at 20:17
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2 Answers

Not only is it probably not illegal, it might actually be illegal for them to allow it due to overly restrictive school safety regulation.

Assuming this is not a legal issue, it is certainly a liability issue. It might be possible to work something out with them where you provide permission (in writing) that your child is allowed to walk home.

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That's a place to start. –  Kzqai Apr 16 '11 at 9:45
    
It may not be illegal, but a liability concern. Their insurance might require keeping the child for "safety" concerns even if it would be perfectly legal. –  Deleted Apr 21 '11 at 16:28
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I don't think this is illegal. There are numerous reasons why. I used to live less then a mile for my school but had to cross a busy road and they would not let me do that. Also dont forget that quite a few kidnapping happen while kids are on their way home from school.

She should talk to the school transportation department and see if there is some kind of compromise they can come up with, or just take the school transit all the time. That would remote the walking issue.

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The -1 is for fear mongering. It's hard to get precise statistics on this for more recent years, but in 2002, there were 115 'stereotypical' kidnappings (kidnappings by a stranger with intend to harm or permanently hold the child) in the US. The odds of a child being kidnapped are quite literally 1 in a million. A child is about 30 times more likely to drown. –  philosodad Apr 16 '11 at 22:30
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Yes, I was about to say. Unless you're divorced or about to be divorced (or that your parents are crazy that way), the likelihood that your child will be snatched off the street is next to nothing. Far more likely is that your spouse will kidnap your child and cut off all contact. Whether or not that happens more after school is another thing. –  Ernie May 17 '11 at 23:52
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