School Made Third Grade Student Pay To Use Bathroom

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Evergreen Public School District LogoThe mother of a third grade girl attending Mill Plain Elementary School in Vancouver, Washington is demanding changes in a school room program where students are required to pay to use the bathroom. The program was to be a lesson in money management where students received and worked for Monopoly Money to buy items in the classroom but the teacher required a payment of M$50.00 in order to use the bathroom.

Jasmine Al-Ayadhi told reporters her nine year old daughter, Reem, did not want to pay to use the bathroom and ultimately had an accident, causing her both discomfort and having to endure teasing by other children. In agreeing with the need to teach children the value of money Jasmine said, “Work for your money, to earn it, to buy like a little toy or a little squirt gun or a little ball. When it comes to a bathroom issue, when a child has to pay money to use the bathroom – that’s wrong. 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 M$50 dollars in pretend money to go to the bathroom.

On Thursday, Reem was down to her last M$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 then 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,” Jasmine said. “OK, if you want to use the bathroom it’s going to cost you M$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 boy’s basketball shorts. 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.

Jasmine 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,” Jasmine 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.”

The school’s spokeswoman released 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.”

A similar incident occurred in Lebanon, Oregon and was reported by news station KATU of Portland, Oregon and the school principal dropped the payment requirement after the story aired.

A pediatrician was consulted and provided an opinion of this based upon his experience. Dr. Bruce Birk is a Portland pediatrician. He says that there’s consensus in the medical community on this issue.

“It would be chaos in a classroom for teachers not to have a system,” says Birk. “Holding in the classroom in between well-established potty breaks has not been shown in any sense of the word to be harmful to kids.”

Washington State SealYet the message this might be teaching children is something that some parents are going to have much objection to. But not only the parents have concerns, the incident at Mill Plain Elementary could have been interpreted as close to violating state law, at least in the sprit of the law as noted by the state legislature.

In 1977, when bathrooms requiring payment were more common, the legislature enacted a law in the state’s Public Health and Safety code to address the issue of those needing to use restrooms and facility owners demanding payment for their use. The law reads:

RCW 70.54.160
Public restrooms — Pay facilities — Penalty.

(1) Every establishment which maintains restrooms for use by the public shall not discriminate in charges required between facilities used by men and facilities used by women.

(2) When coin lock controls are used, the controls shall be so allocated as to allow for a proportionate equality of free toilet units available to women as compared with those units available to men, and at least one-half of the units in any restroom shall be free of charge. As used in this section, toilet units are defined as constituting commodes and urinals.

(3) In situations involving coin locks placed on restroom entry doors, admission keys shall be readily provided without charge when requested, and notice as to the availability of the keys shall be posted on the restroom entry door.

(4) Any owner, agent, manager, or other person charged with the responsibility of the operation of an establishment who operates such establishment in violation of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

While many could see this as making a mountain out of a mole hill, one has to ask what kind of lesson a policy requiring payment by nine year old students to use a bathroom teaches children.

By Darren Smith


Revised Code of Washington

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

484 thoughts on “School Made Third Grade Student Pay To Use Bathroom”

  1. MikeA, Thanks for your thoughtful reply. We agree on remuneration for good behavior not being generally a good policy. Congrats on being grandparents.

    I love the new format wherein the comment box being inverted. It provides the always important few seconds to breath and think before typing. Great idea.

  2. I’ve lost a post. Can someone please find it in the filter? Thanks!

  3. Paul Schulte has some comments that are lost on this post, Sandy Hook, and the Dentist. He can’t get through at all. Can someone fish him out?

    1. Karen

      Professor Turley mentioned on another thread there was some maintenance happening on the blog and a few of Pual’s comments disappeared. Professor recommended that he recomment.

  4. Nick: I agree with you that using play money to teach kids the difference between needs and wants is a good idea. In fact, I wish there had been more emphasis on that when I was a kid because it teaches self-discipline and the ability to resist the natural desire for instant gratification. My objection is that we ought not to be teaching kids that everything is to be measured in economic terms. And frankly, I do not believe that we should reward all good behavior financially. My own parents took the view that school was my occupation, and that I was expected to use my best efforts for that reason alone. Of course, extraordinary performance should be recognized, but I also think that kids need to understand that certain behaviors are expected for their intrinsic importance (e.g., honesty, sharing, playing well together). In any event, I’m convinced that I’m more understanding and patient as a grandparent than I was as a parent.

    I also agree that the mother’s reaction to the situation in this instance was short on maturity.

  5. MikeA, As I and others have said, having more info on this program is needed. I surmise, I don’t know but deduce, that this program was teaching choices/consequences and wants/needs. Unlike a real economy, the students are paid for POSITIVE behavior. That’s good, isn’t it? I respect that people here think this is a bad program. I’m just trying to say we who think it’s good, are not bad heartless people lacking empathy.

    This girls chose a “want”[popcorn] over the “need”[peeing]. The natural consequences of that poor choice was peeing her pants. Now, just as we don’t know enough about this program, we know NOTHING about this child. We do know something about her mom. That being she has broadcast her 9 year child’s name and problem all over the world.

  6. I’m trying to get a yes or no answer BEYOND THIS INCIDENT. Is tough love important in rearing or teaching children? Thanks.

  7. “Ignorant of THE TOUGH LOVE PHILOSOPY!! I am ignorant of millions of things as are we all. Diagram sentences before you react. Thanks.

  8. I see that someone here has questioned my expertise on the education of children. I’ll have you know that I was once a substitute CCD teacher in my parish church on Saturday mornings. So there.

    But that really isn’t the point. This isn’t about “special snowflakes.” All kids have to learn that we must sometimes have to wait to go to the bathroom. Most of us learn that lesson before we even start school. Doesn’t anyone remember riding in the family car and hearing a parent say, “You’ll have to hold it until we get home” ? School children are taught to use the bathroom between classes so as not to be disruptive. And they gradually learn what an “emergency” is. That lesson is not learned by teaching a child that taking care of a natural bodily function is some sort of “privilege” that can be purchased. The teacher in the story accomplished nothing, other than perhaps to suggest that people with enough money can pee whenever they wish, an observation which may be accurate, but which is hardly appropriate as a lesson plan for third graders.

    1. Mike – I think the lesson here was between wants and needs. I think, despite the mother’s interference, the child probably learned a valuable lesson. Now she is a special snowflake. Find a need that can be legally used in the third grade classroom. No one has yet supplied me or anyone else with a substitute.

  9. Boot camp for third graders Raff. “Drop and give me twenty you special snowflakes, where’s your mommy now, huh?!”

    1. annie and rafflaw – You have to get right in the kids’ faces and scream, with your best R. Lee Ermey voice

      Drop and give me twenty you special snowflakes, where’s your mommy now, huh?!

  10. I never said that I thought that children should be mollycoddled or babied. Some people read things into comments that others have made. I think this school’s policy of paying kids to do what they should is cockamamie–as is the bathroom policy. A parent or teacher can be firm and loving at the same time. I mentioned something in that vein earlier in this thread. Let us remember that we are talking about children who are in the primary grades here.

  11. What is so maddening here is that the “empathetic” crowd look upon this as an either or. Either you’re empathetic or you believe in tough love. That is consistent w/ people who have a duopoly mentality. It permeates all aspects of life. Neither Paul or I are saying that. I’m an Italian, I’m a hugger! We acknowledge the Ying, hugging, consoling, protecting, is crucial in rearing and teaching kids. But, so is the Yang. Allowing children to make choices and experience the natural consequences of those choices. Obviously, the empathetic crowd do not think the tough love concept should have been used in this incident before us. You’ve made that abundantly and sometimes angrily clear. OK, reasonable people can disagree. Here’s my question, do the empathy crowd acknowledge tough love is important in rearing and teaching children, beyond this incident? It’s really a yes or no question.

  12. raff, You obviously are woefully ignorant of the tough love philosophy based on your comparison of it w/ zero tolerance. Not even close. Read up on the philosophy and then we can have an intelligent discussion on this. Thanks.

  13. Elaine – the teacher did not have to offer the popcorn as an alternative, but she did. The child made the decision. The mother made a worse one. If that child was not a special snowflake before, she is now. 🙂

  14. rafflaw,

    First, I think the school’s policy of giving children fake money for completing their work and behaving appropriately is dumb. Second, making children pay to go to the bathroom other than at their scheduled potty break times is a cockamamie idea. Third, treating young children roughly, with insensitivity, without understanding of their stage of development, and without regard to their physical and emotional needs does not help them to grow into secure and confident individuals. Allowing elementary age children to go to the bathroom when the need arises isn’t treating them like special snowflakes. Honestly, I have had to shake my head when I read some of the comments on this thread.

  15. Elaine and Annie,
    Aren’t we talking about 3rd graders here? Tough love sounds too much like zero tolerance.

    1. rafflaw – zero tolerance is tough law. So are mandatory sentencing laws.

  16. Tough love is kindness that some just don’t understand. Love and Logic, it’s sold millions of copies. Should be required reading for ALL teachers and parents. When you eliminate all the posturing and self righteousness, it really comes down to that. Tough love is REAL HARD for the parent or teacher. It doesn’t feeeel good. It is the Yang to the Ying. Balance.

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