CARLSBAD, N.M — A parent at a New Mexico school said she was concerned to see children housed in cages while waiting to be picked up after classes are dismissed. School officials, however, said the enclosures were used to keep students safe.
The woman's 5-year-old son began kindergarten at Early Childhood Education Center in Carlsbad. She said was distressed to see students standing outside in the enclosures on days when temperatures reached triple digits.
"I went to go pick my son up from school," the woman told KOB. "I noticed they had the children in cages."
School officials said the cages are used to keep the children safe, but the parent who spoke with KOB believes the opposite is true.
"It's putting them in danger, it's putting their little bodies in danger," she told the television station. "They can get heat exhaustion... so many different things, like dehydration."
Pickup times at the school are at 2:10 p.m. and 2:25 p.m., the television station reported.
"The kids that aren't picked up on time, they aren't allowed to be taken inside until 2:45, so that's 20 to 30 minutes of them standing out there in the heat, waiting to be picked up by their parent," the woman told KOB. "That's completely unsafe. That's a large amount of time for a child to be out, exposed to the heat, even in the shade."
Carlsbad's Superintendent Gerry Washburn denied in a statement that students were kept in the enclosures for extended lengths of time.
“The assertions that kindergarten students at our Early Childhood Education Center are in cages in the hot sun for 30 to 40 minutes at dismissal are categorically false," Washburn said. "(Our) plan keeps students safe in shaded areas for approximately 15 minutes or less. The plan also creates an orderly dismissal process, significantly reduces parent wait times and reduces traffic backups."
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