Mom Says Her Daughter's Teacher Is 'Charging' Her To Use The Bathroom Or Go To The Nurse's Office During Class

Students should be free to go to the bathroom whenever the need arises.

Last updated on Mar 28, 2024

sad student on school steps Wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Parents send their kids to school to learn, grow, and socialize with their peers. But one mother was taken aback after hearing about the policy her daughter's teacher had in place for students who wanted to leave the classroom.

Desi Hoffman explained that her 11-year-old daughter had started middle school, and during her second week of school, she came home with a slip of paper from her science teacher. The slips of paper showed that Hoffman's daughter's science teacher had rules in place if students needed to use the restroom.


Hoffman says her daughter's teacher is 'charging' her to use the bathroom during class.

In the video, Hoffman showed a photo of the papers her daughter had brought up, which were given to her by her teacher, Mrs. Garrett.

On the paper, the teacher had created a monetary system called "Garrett dollars," which worked as a reward system where students were able to receive bathroom and hall passes, one late exception, and access to supplies.



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"But Mrs. Garrett makes [the students] cash them in to use the bathroom," Hoffman explained, adding that her daughter's other four teachers "have no problem" letting their students use the bathroom whenever the need arises.

When Hoffman asked her daughter how she and her classmates can earn "Garrett dollars," she replied that if she "donated or bought supplies" off of her teacher's classroom wish list, they were given access to the reward system.

Hoffman acknowledged that she understands how difficult it is for teachers buying their own supplies, but pointed out that low-income families probably can't afford to donate or buy supplies for teachers, and therefore would have disadvantages over their classmate's parents who can afford it.

"Those kids shouldn't have less opportunities to use the bathroom, regardless of how you earn these. You should not have to barter with your reward cash for rights to use the restroom," Hoffman said.


Hoffman added that her daughter also told her that her teacher also charges students if they need to go to the nurses' office at their school.

Hoffman immediately sent her daughter's teacher a respectful email, writing that she shouldn't be seeking monetary benefits from her students.

In the email, Hoffman wrote that while she can appreciate the use of "a classroom currency for the use of perks and motivation," she can't support a "system that prevents children from using the restroom at a school they are required to attend."

Hoffman offered other suggestions to her daughter's teacher, who had recently been hired and was starting her first year of teaching.

Mom Says Her Daughter's Teacher Is Charging Her To Use The Bathroom During ClassPhoto: Katerina Holmes / Pexels


"If you see any students excessively using the restroom, you might want to consider pulling them aside and finding out if there's a more personal concern at hand," Hoffman suggested. She pointed out that a teacher doing that would "build a sense of trust" led by compassion instead of attempting to micromanage a group of young children.

Hoffman told her daughter's teacher that she would not be allowing her child to follow the rules of the monetary system set in place, explaining, "[My daughter] has my full authorization to [use the bathroom and go to the office] whenever she needs to, without needing to explain herself."

Hoffman told the teacher that she'd make sure her daughter would always "respectfully" ask when she needed to leave the class for any reason, and would inform the teacher where she was going.

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Hoffman's daughter explained how humiliating the policy was for her and other students.

In a series of follow-up videos Hoffman explained that her daughter had told her about how Mrs. Garrett split the class up into table groups.

Her daughter was hesitant to use the suggestions from her mother on what to say to Mrs. Garrett, claiming the teacher would be "docking" points from each table group when one student from that team was "bad," whether it was using the restroom or talking in class, and caused the other students at the table to boo them.

Why? Because the points could eventually be cashed in for prizes.

Her daughter revealed that she had gotten a point docked from her group after answering another student's question in class, leading to her peers booing her. The same thing happened to another student who used the bathroom without having enough "Garrett dollars."


Hoffman eventually revealed the teacher's response to her original email. 



"I hear you, but must clarify that I would never prevent a child from using the restroom... if they run out of passes, they are still allowed to go," Hoffman said reading the reply email. 

Mrs. Garrett also mentioned that the bathroom protocols are in place to prevent students from gathering in the bathroom together during class. But Hoffman wasn't satisfied with the teacher's explanation. 


"There's something deeply wrong here," Hoffman said, before adding that she replied to the teacher's email, though there were a few tidbits she didn't include. "This school is so overpopulated that the sixth graders don't even get lockers. So I don't know how all of these students are expected to use the bathroom in a five-minute passing period and make it to their next class on time."

"I can admire a class currency. I remember having fun with these types of systems when I was a student, I've just never heard of a teacher using it regarding bathroom privileges, and I'm not okay with it."

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The situation escalated to the point where Hoffman spoke with the principal and superintendent.

After a back and forth email with Mrs. Garrett, Hoffman brought up the reasons why she was uncomfortable with the entire system. She asked why students should lose points and privileges for basic human necessities, and why other students should lose opportunities for the actions of their peers.


The principal eventually gave Hoffman a call.



Hoffman explained the conversation as frustrating and like they were going in circles, with the principal ignoring her concerns. The principal explained that Mrs. Garrett inherited the system from a teacher that retired, how wonderful the system is, and how Hoffman was just focusing on that one small part (the bathroom).

"All he wanted to do was commend this awesome collaborative experience," Hoffman recounted. "When I refused to back down, he started to get irritated. He said, 'I don't understand what there still is to be concerned about here; I would never allow a teacher to prevent a student from using the restroom who really had to go.'"


"I know you can't physically restrain a student and prevent them from using the restroom," Hoffman replied, "but [Mrs. Garrett] is using manipulative methods to scare them out of using the restroom. She's instigating bullying."

Eventually, the superintendent got in touch with Hoffman, and after consulting with other teachers who let their students use the restroom, agreed to remove the bathroom break protocol from the system altogether. 

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Hoffman's issue with the restroom policy brought to light how 'operant conditioning' can have negative effects.

Hoffman referenced a method of learning called operant conditioning, saying, "This has been an excellent lesson on how deep operant conditioning really goes. When you rely strictly on extrinsic motivation, it damages a human being's intrinsic motivation."

Operant conditioning is where rewards and punishments are used to encourage or discourage certain behaviors. Rewards are meant to increase a behavior, while punishments are intended to decrease that specific behavior.

In this case, Mrs. Garrett's policy for bathroom usage involved students having to "earn" points by donating to her classroom supplies, putting certain students at a disadvantage. Those students would be "punished" through the "docking" of points policy she implemented, affecting other students as well.

As Hoffman put it, the policy pits students against each other "in order to impose social accountability." And that's certainly not healthy for kids this age.


Mom Says Her Daughter's Teacher Is Charging Her To Use The Bathroom During ClassPhoto: cottonbro studio / Pexels

At this age, kids are very concerned about the opinions of their peers. In Hoffman's daughter's experience with her peers booing her for answering a student's question in class, and getting points deducted for their table, it caused embarrassment.

According to psychologist Carl E Pickhardt Ph.D., embarrassment among adolescents "can result in feelings of social exposure, self-consciousness, isolation, anxiety, humiliation, and even shame... Adolescents are very easy to embarrass because this is the age of in-between when one is no longer a child but not yet an adult, and can be criticized on both fronts for either presuming to act too old or for not acting old enough."


While it may not have been an intended consequence of Mrs. Garrett's system, the truth is that students should be talked to and educated with compassion, not punishments that humiliate them in front of their peers. In fact, studies have found that negative reinforcement (getting "docked," in this specific situation, for example) should be used very rarely in the classroom, with more focus being put on positive reinforcement.

Hopefully, Mrs. Garrett, the principal, superintendent, and other parents who complained can take a step back and realize that it's the students who are most important in this situation.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.