A mother took to social media over the weekend to vent about her middle school-aged daughter’s science teacher, “Mrs. Garett,” who purportedly “charges” students to use the bathroom.
Posting to TikTok, Desi Eleazar Hoffman (@mommastattoos) said Mrs. Garrett has allegedly implemented a classroom “reward system” that allows students to earn “Garrett dollars,” which they can cash in to borrow supplies or use the bathroom, among other things. .
The post has amassed over 1.4 million views and thousands of comments from viewers who believe that schools, in general, need to change how “bathroom usage” is handled. You can watch the full video here.
School Bathroom Restrictions
Teachers around the country have implemented bathroom policies that limit when and how often their students are allowed to use the restroom.
In 2019, for example, one California teacher reportedly made an 8-year-old “urinate in a trash can located at the front of a classroom” instead of allowing him to use the restroom. Then, she forced him to spend the remainder of his day in urine-soaked clothes.
In January, a teacher posting to Reddit said he was placed on temporary leave because he didn’t let a female student use the bathroom. And in August, a high school English teacher made headlines for purportedly making her students sacrifice extra credit points for bathroom passes.
Some teachers implement restrictive bathroom policies because they fear some students might abuse bathroom passes, TODAY said. However, child development and parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa said limiting students’ access to bathrooms not only carries potential medical risks but can also “damage students’ sense of personal boundaries and safety.”
“Students need to know, whether they use the privilege or not, that there is a private place to go at any time, should a genuine need arise,” Gilboa told. TODAY.
“That need might be physical—like needing to pee, or checking to see if that weird feeling is your first menstrual period—or it might be emotional,” she said. “Schools absolutely need solutions to bad behavior and rule-breaking around bathroom trips, but this is not one of those healthy solutions.”
Hoffman, for her part, agrees.
In her video, Hoffman said students in Mrs. Garrett’s class need to earn their bathroom passes or “Garrett dollars.” Students can allegedly earn these passes in various ways, including asking their parents to donate classroom supplies.
“I get it—it’s hard for teachers out here these days,” Hoffman said. “But there are low-income families who can’t afford this, so I feel like [their kids] have [fewer] opportunities than the kids [whose families] can, and those kids shouldn’t have [fewer] opportunities to use the bathroom.”
Hoffman also said that regardless of how students earn “Garrett dollars,” they “should not have to barter with. [their] reward cash for rights to use the restroom.”
Upset, Hoffman sent an email to Mrs. Garrett saying all this and letting Mrs. Garrett know that her daughter will be using the bathroom whenever she wants, whether or not she has any “Garrett dollars.”
In a follow-up video, Hoffman said she learned that students can use the bathroom without the dollars; however, by doing this, they’ll lose “table points.”
“[Mrs. Garrett] seats us all at tables and teams, and if somebody does something bad…she docks points from the whole table, and everyone at the table gets so mad at you,” Hoffman said, imitating her daughter.
The table points, she elaborated, are used to buy prizes.
Mrs. Garrett explained all this to Hoffman in an email, to which Hoffman responded: “Why should students lose points and privileges for basic human necessities? Why should students lose opportunities for the actions of their peers?”
Hoffman also escalated the bathroom policy to the school’s principal but didn’t reach any resolution other than agreeing that Hoffman’s daughter would not participate in Mrs. Garrett’s “reward system.”
Many of Hoffman’s viewers agreed that students shouldn’t have to earn bathroom “privileges” and argued that schools, in general, need to implement better bathroom policies.
“This is my 11th year teaching, and I never tell a child not to use the bathroom. It is not a privilege to go to the bathroom,” Nikki Miller said.
“Going to the restroom isn’t a reward; it’s a basic human necessity,” Tawnee agreed.
“I have a lot of respect [for] teachers; however, [using the] restroom is a need, not a privilege that can [be] taken away at the convenience of the teacher,” one user wrote.
Aly Collins added: “The way bathroom usage is handled in schools needs to change.”
Newsweek reached out to Desi Eleazar Hoffman for comment.