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Dad Arrested for Picking Up Kids at School on Foot

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on November 20, 2013 12:17 PM

A Tennessee dad was arrested last week for violating a school policy that prohibits parents from picking up kids at school on foot ahead of parents picking their children up by car.

Jim Howe, 40, of Crossville, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after he got into an argument with School Resource Officer Avery Aytes over the policy.

But did the officer have a justified reason for arresting Howe for disorderly conduct?

Howe Fights New School Policy

Until recently, parents could pick their children up from South Cumberland Elementary School by parking in the lot and walking into the building. But a new policy requires them to wait in their cars with a placard containing their child's name -- pedestrian parents must wait in the line, too, reports New York Daily News.

Footage of the incident shows Howe trying to reason with Aytes by explaining to him that it makes no sense for him to wait behind a mile-long line of cars just so he can walk his kids home.

You can see the cell phone video taken by Howe's fiancee here:

When Aytes became upset about Howe involving the Cumberland County Sheriff, Aytes, who is also a sheriff's deputy, threatened to arrest Howe.

Howe continues to try and calmly convince Aytes that the policy is too strict and possibly illegal, but Aytes cuts him off, arrests him, and charges him with disorderly conduct.

Disorderly Conduct or False Arrest?

Officers often use a disorderly conduct charge to keep the peace when a person is behaving in a disruptive manner but presents no serious public danger. They're "catch-all" laws that prohibit a wide variety of obnoxious or unruly conduct.

In this case, Aytes reportedly cuffed Howe for being disruptive inside of a school building.

But critics believe Aytes was simply trying to silence a parent who was voicing his legitimate safety concerns about the school's new pick-up policy -- namely, that students have to walk into traffic, according to the Daily News.

If critics are right and Aytes overstepped his authority, Howe may be able to sue Aytes and the school for false arrest. Doing so would be no easy feat as officers typically have qualified immunity and suing school districts is a complicated process.

Considering the county sheriff conceded the dangers of the new policy, Howe may have a pretty strong case.

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