Two third graders at an elementary school in Vancouver, Wash. say they have wet their pants in the last week because they hadn’t accumulated enough pretend classroom money to pay for trips to the bathroom.
Livid parents say the incidents occurred at Mill Plain Elementary, area CBS affiliate KIRO-TV reports.
The pretend money is designed to teach students about the value of money. Students earn the fictional funds by doing their homework, for example, or by being nice to others. They can spend it to buy pizza or pointless crap like a squirt gun. Students say they must also use the fake cash to pay for bathroom breaks.
The unidentified teacher exacts a seemingly high imaginary price for toilet time: $50.
“When it comes to a bathroom issue, when a child has to pay money to use the bathroom, that’s wrong,” mad mother Jasmine Al-Ayadhi told Portland ABC affiliate KATU. “It’s inhumane. That’s a health issue.”
Al-Ayadhi’s daughter, Reem, was one of the students who had an in-class accident. She was down to her final $50 on Thursday. She wanted to buy some popcorn. She also needed to pee. Unwisely, she chose to try to hold it in, which didn’t work.
“Okay, if you want to use the bathroom it’s going to cost you $50, but then you don’t have money to buy popcorn,” the frustrated mom told KATU. “What do you think a child’s going to do?”
School officials responded by providing the nine-year-old girl with a pair of boys basketball shorts to wear.
As a result of her new garb and her embarrassing accident, the girl said, she suffered insults from other students.
“It didn’t feel so well because I had to wear boy pants and I did get teased,” Reem told the ABC affiliate.
School district spokeswoman Gail Spolar would not comment on the girl’s plight, citing privacy concerns, but she provided a terse statement promising to investigate and “to ensure the health and safety of every child.” She also noted that pay-to-pee protocol is not a school-wide policy.
Meanwhile, notes KIRO, the regular teacher in the third-grade classroom has been removed. A substitute is teaching in her place pending the outcome of the investigation.
This basic pay-to-pee scenario seems to be a hardy perennial at elementary schools across America. In December 2012, for example, the mother of a seven-year-old boy at J.O. Davis Elementary School in Irving, Texas said her son wet his pants in class because he hadn’t accumulated enough “Boyd Bucks” to secure a trip to the bathroom. (RELATED: Second-Grade Teacher Charges Good-Behavior ‘Bucks’ For Bathroom Breaks; Empty-Pocketed Boy Wets Pants)