School letter threatens parents with call to DHS

Principal of Swegle Elementary School is apologizing for the letter

A close-up copy of the letter written on Swegle Elementary letterhead that was sent to parents. The letter was given directly to KOIN on July 8, 2015.
A close-up copy of the letter written on Swegle Elementary letterhead that was sent to parents. The letter was given directly to KOIN on July 8, 2015.

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — The principal of Swegle Elementary School apologized Wednesday for a letter sent to parents that states the school will call DHS if parents do not pick up their children on time each day.

Swegle Elementary School in the Salem-Keizer district, July 8, 2015 (KOIN)
Swegle Elementary School in the Salem-Keizer district, July 8, 2015 (KOIN)

The letter, dated June 24, was given to KOIN 6 News by Chelsea Eichenauer, a parent at the school. In the 3rd paragraph, the letter states:

“Children must be picked up on time. If they are not picked up on time, we will call DHS and you will then have to pick them up at court the next day.”

Jay Remy from the Salem-Keizer School District, told KOIN 6 News the “principal feels awful and is apologizing for it. She will likely draft a new, corrected letter that will explain what went wrong.”

The principal reportedly asked for a letter to be sent out to parents, reminding them of school procedures once school resumes in the fall.

Eichenauer, whose 5-year-old son will soon begin kindergarten at Swegle Elementary School, said she was taken aback after receiving the letter.

“My heart kind of skipped a beat a little bit, it’s pretty scary,” Eichenauer said. “It would traumatize my little boy to death if he couldn’t come home one night.”

According to Remy, the letter went out to parents without the principal’s review and approval. He said, although it’s not clear who sent the letter out, it was simply a miscommunication.

The district spokesperson said DHS would only be called in extreme circumstances, like when a parent doesn’t come to pick up their child at all. He said, if parents can’t pick up their child in the case of an emergency, they should call the school to let them know.

“Parents should not worry that if they get stuck in traffic their kids will be taken away,” Remy said. “We hope that parents will be willing to accept our apology and move on.”

Wednesday night, the school’s principal sent out a prerecorded message to parents explaining the mix up.

“They didn’t bother until enough people brought it to their attention,” Eichenauer said.

A copy of the letter written on Swegle Elementary letterhead that was sent to parents. The letter was given directly to KOIN on July 8, 2015.
A copy of the letter written on Swegle Elementary letterhead that was sent to parents. The letter was given directly to KOIN on July 8, 2015.