VANCOUVER, Wash. - A Vancouver mom is furious at her daughter's third-grade teacher for making kids pay to use the bathroom at Mill Plains Elementary school. She’s concerned a lesson in money management might be doing more harm than good.
Jasmine Al-Ayadhi has no problem with Reem, her 9-years-old daughter, learning the value of a dollar in school.
"Work for your money, to earn it, to buy like a little toy or a little squirt gun or a little ball,” Al-Ayadhi said.
But Al-Ayadhi has a big problem with the way the school is going about it.
“When it comes to a bathroom issue, when a child has to pay money to use the bathroom - that's wrong," she said. "It's inhumane. That's a health issue."
Reem said the students in her class earn money by doing things, such as good deeds, being nice, and finishing school work. She said she uses the money to buy treats like popcorn and pizza.
She also said each student in her class has to pay their teacher $50 dollars in pretend money to go to the bathroom.
On Thursday, Reem was down to her last $50. She also had to go to the bathroom. She wanted to buy popcorn, like her friends were doing. She said she wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom because she didn’t want to pay. She had an embarrassing accident.
"When it comes to using the bathroom, having to hold her pee, and if she wants to use the bathroom, you make a choice," Al-Ayadhi said. "OK, if you want to use the bathroom it's going to cost you $50, but then you don't have money to buy popcorn. What do you think a child's going to do?"
The school gave Reem a change of clothes, a pair of royal blue boys basketball shorts. Jasmine showed KATU News the shorts on Friday night. Reem said the other kids made fun of her for having an accident, and then for having to wear boys clothes.
"It didn't feel so well because I had to wear boy pants and I did get teased,” Reem said.
Al-Ayadhi said she talked to the principal on Thursday, who promised to follow up about the issue on Friday. As of Friday night, Jasmine said she hadn’t heard back.
"This is a school," Al-Ayadhi said. "This isn't a jail. This isn't a prison. We send our kids to school to learn and to get a good education."
This isn’t the first “pay to potty” incident KATU News has looked into. A similar program was in place at Cascades Elementary School in Lebanon, Oregon. After a KATU Problem Solvers investigation, the school changed its policy.
While the situation at Mill Plains Elementary gets sorted out, Al-Ayadhi advice to her daughter is to keep her chin up, focusing on happy things instead of a humiliating experience.
A spokeswoman for Evergreen Public Schools told KATU News they can't talk about the incident because of student privacy. They did release a statement:
"We were made aware of the situation Friday evening. We will investigate as soon as possible Monday morning. We work hard to ensure the health and safety of every child and will make sure we do not have any classroom rule that prevents that."
KATU News will follow up with the school on Monday, too.