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Stupid Rules Are Made Lo Be Broquen 


Why Would School Staff Force a Student to Freeze?


It seems mind-boggling. Minnesota public school staff forced a barefoot teenage girl in a wet bathing suit to stand outside in sub-zero weather until she developed frostbite.

It happened around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at Como Park High School in St. Paul. Fourteen-year-old Kayona Hagen-Tietz says she was in the school’s pool when the fire alarm went off.

While other students had gotten out earlier and were able to put on dry clothes, Hagen-Tietz said she was rushed out with just her towel.

On Wednesday morning, the temperature was 5 below, and the wind chill was 25 below.

A teacher prevented her from getting her clothes from her locker because the rules stipulate that everyone must immediately leave the building in the event of a fire alarm. Shivering, the student pleaded to be allowed to go inside a car or another building but her request was denied.

Hagen-Tietz asked to wait inside an employee’s car, or at the elementary school across the street. But administrators believed that this would violate official policy, and could get the school in trouble, so they opted to simply let the girl freeze.

Students huddled around her and a teacher gave her a coat, but she stood barefoot for ten minutes before obtaining permission to sit in a vehicle. By that point, she had already developed frostbite.

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MARCH 3, 2014 1:22 PM

Minnesota School Freezes Live Student
Frostbitten Teen Forced to Stand Outside in Swimsuit

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A St. Paul high school left a student standing outside for ten minutes last week, in sub-freezing Minnesota February temperatures, wet and wearing only a swimsuit.

Fourteen-year-old Kayona Hagen-Tietz reports that she now has frostbite. Her sacrifice enabled Como Park High School to conduct an unplanned fire drill without violating a school fraternization rule.

Wednesday morning, as Twin City temperatures ranged from a low of negative 8 degrees to a high of 12 degrees Fahrenheit, the Como Park High freshman, along with a classmate, were in the school’s pool when the fire alarm went off. The classmate’s clothes were poolside; but Hagen-Tietz’s clothes were in her locker and she was blocked from retrieving them by a teacher who rushed her out of the building.

Wearing nothing but a towel and her bathing suit, Hagen-Tietz stood outside with her fellow students as administrators determined what triggered the alarm. Gopher State schools generally do not conduct fire drills during the winter months. WCCOreports that smoke from a “science experiment” set off the alarm.

In the meantime, teachers feared to violate openly a school policy that prohibits students from sitting in a faculty member’s car.

Hagen-Tietz fellow students, however, demonstrated a grasp of civilized behavior. Students huddled around her and and some frigid classmates, giving her a sweatshirt to put around her feet. A teacher coughed up a jacket.

After Hagen-Tietz had suffered for ten minutes in sub-zero weather, a teacher finally received administrative permission to let her sit inside her car until students were allowed back inside.

Eva Tietz, the shivering student’s mother, told WCCO that a doctor discovered frostbite on Hagen-Tietz’s feet. The freshman will need to take pain medications.

“Immediately, when they had seen that, they should have had some kind of protocol,” Tietz tells National Review Online, adding that while she understands the need to evacuate students as a precaution, she objects to the follow-up. Tietz notes that her daughter could have also been allowed to go in to an elementary school across the street to get out of the cold. Had she let her own daughter stand outside in the cold weather, Tietz points out, she would probably have faced stiff legal charges.

St. Paul Public Schools released a statement saying the district will continue to “regularly review its procedures” with the city’s fire marshal, and will make changes where they see fit. Tietz wants an apology from the school and recommends Como Park High revisit its policies to prevent similar lapses in judgment.

— Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.


Education and Child Policy


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