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The System Needs Work: Bathroom Passes

Since 2021, the school bathroom policy has been based on passes. Two color-coded clipboards per classroom. In theory, it works great, but when the rules aren’t taken seriously, the system breaks down. I think that the policy works, but it does have flaws, and should be improved. I asked Dr. Brenda Clarke, our assistant principal, about how it began. “We had kids from the MAD Academy all the way in the front [of the school] and kids from the front hanging out in the back [of the school].” The concern is that students are missing educational time wandering the hallways. In an administrative meeting, the conundrum was brought up. “I just suggested that we color code the school into different sections.” Since then, she said, the Dean’s office has taken over the development and enforcement of the policy.

“The main purpose of it is to help the campus security team tell where the students are coming from,” said Dean of Students, Mr. Mendoza. Students need to stay in class “so they don’t miss out on instructional time,” and the bathroom passes have been the best solution to keep students from wandering the hallways during school hours. Despite there being “…no perfect system with hall passes…this is the best one that we have.” Mendoza commented that the security team finds students in the wrong sections “on a daily basis.” 

The way bathroom passes are supposed to function is easy: Take the pass off the wall, sign your name, use the restroom, and come back. However, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes the clipboard is gone, there’s no pen, or worst of all, the pass is wet or greasy. “[They’re just] as sanitary as the student who uses the bathroom,” said Mr. Dodson. Though the cleanliness of the passes is mostly up to students, the passes are also designed in a way that makes cleaning difficult. The system isn’t explained well enough to students or teachers, either. Here are a few suggestions to improve it:

A colored lanyard like those used at Dos Pueblos could be used instead of the clipboards, but those may be more difficult for campus security to see. Instead of keeping the log of who went to the bathroom and when on the clipboard, it can be kept on a normal sheet of paper next to the passes. That way, students won’t take the sheet into the restroom. Lastly, instead of having two passes per classroom, base the amount on class size.

The administrators should introduce and explain the new policy in the theater every year, so the message can be given to a majority of the school at once. Most people don’t seem to pay attention to the morning announcements anymore, so the theater would work much better. Of course, this is just a suggestion for an improved system; coating hundreds of pieces of paper in resin isn’t cheap. The pass system as it stands is well organized, but counts too much on student support. All parties are doing their best to create a good and functional system. As Clarke put it, “We definitely don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable about the situation, or that they can’t access a restroom when they need it.”


  • Cole Weaver

    Cole Weaver is a junior at Santa Barbara High School and staff writer for The Forge. He enjoys history and science, and mostly publishes articles related to those topics. Cole hopes his articles will assist in forming a more active and informed public.

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