Zephyrhills High students frustrated by new bathroom policy

By Leah Masuda, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 10:46 PM EDT
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Some Zephyrhills High School students are upset about a new policy that requires an administrator to walk them to the bathroom.

However, school leaders say the policy had to be put in place in an attempt to curb abuse of hall passes during class.

Students like Kylee-Ann Witzke came back from spring break on Monday to find the new policy in place. Now teachers have to call an administrator if a student in their class needs to use the bathroom.

“I feel very violated, very uncomfortable to come to school,” Witzke said. “I can’t even use the restroom which is a basic human right without feeling uncomfortable.”

But teacher Catherine Burgess, who was part of the decision-making process, is sticking to her guns.

“We have groups of students waiting outside of bathrooms, waiting to attack other students," she said. "We have students defecating on the floors in the restrooms."

Not all students are unhappy with the policy. Some, like student body president Dylan Kinsman, agree with the new policy.

“I would walk around the halls and there would be a crazy amount of kids just walking and wandering,” he said.

Part of the problem is there are only five administrators to escort the 1,500 students in the school.

“Yesterday there were many reports from other students that they were waiting a long time, or didn’t even get to go because they were waiting so long,” said Witzke.

Burgess says there are ways for students to resolve those issues.

“If you can’t wait for 15 minutes then you need to get a medical letter that says you have to be let to go to the bathroom sooner than that,” said Burgess.

Some students make the argument that the policy is an invasion of privacy and violates their rights, but Burgess says that’s not really the case.

“Students have been made to feel like they have rights when they are really bathroom privileges,” said Burgess.

Even so, students say it’s just flat-out embarrassing.

“It’s really demeaning to have to be escorted like a 5-year-old to the restroom,” said Witzke.

Relief may be on the way for many students. When grades are finalized on Friday, students who are doing well and are on track to graduate will get a pass to walk the halls freely. Those who are struggling will still need an escort.

“They’re not on track to graduate maybe they shouldn't be leaving class, maybe they should be in class, and maybe it could be some kind of incentive,” said Kinsman.

“Just because you have bad grades doesn’t mean you have to be escorted like a child,” said Witzke.

The school superintendent says he has received several calls from parents concerned about the policy and the wait times. He has suggested to the high school to come up with an alternative, such as using volunteer hall monitors.