New Parking Lot Causes Trouble For Staff

A sign discouraging students against parking lot misdeeds in West Potomacs lot, located behind the Gunston building.

Mercedes Henwood

A sign discouraging students against parking lot misdeeds in West Potomac’s lot, located behind the Gunston building.

During September 2022, the new parking lot behind the new building and Gunston was finally finished. This new parking lot was designed for staff and faculty to have more space for teachers to park. However, students have taken advantage of this new parking lot even though–besides Academy students– they aren’t allowed to park there. “I think faculty needs some space that’s ours,” Mr. O’Grady, an English teacher, said. “I think we need a space that is set aside where we can park and we know that we have a parking spot that we can pull into, and that those parking spots are always going to be there.”

However, not all teachers believe that students shouldn’t park in the new parking area. “Honestly, I think they should figure out a way for them to park in that new space,” Ms. Sheetz, another English teacher, commented. “I think part of my problem is that I’m a rule follower and they’re breaking the rules, but if they could just accommodate them then that would be nice.” 

“It’s not safe to have students be able to leave in the middle of the day and then just come back in and enter and no one can see. That as a safety issue,” Mr. O’Grady said about students entering and leaving the building mid day. 

On a recent Tuesday, 40% of the cars there were from students (49 out of 124 cars had no passes), while 58% of the cars parked were staff (72 out of the 124 cars had an orange pass on them, meaning they were teachers/faculty). The rest were academy students that had student passes. Two weeks later on another Tuesday, 58 out of 132 cars were from students without passes, 69 out of 132 cars were from teachers and the remaining 5 cars were from academy students with passes.

Select students from the Academy classes have special parking accommodations. “We have a set number of parking spaces for Academy students but it’s just for our travelers,” Jennifer Barbour from West Potomac High School’s Academy Offices said. 

Several students with and without student passes have recently been taking up parking in that area, and they have been using these parking spaces to help them skip homeroom and lunch period to go out somewhere and get outside food. There are several doors in the school that are unlocked at all times, allowing kids to leave and enter the building mid day. 

Students park there for many reasons, “[I’m] close to the classes, free parking…I do like parking here,” Senior Kareem Abdi said.

The security team is taking some action in the lot. According to Mr. Walls, the Safety and Security Specialist, they give out 5-8 tickets per day in the new parking lot and they charge $40 per ticket. “If the students don’t pay for the first ticket, they have to pay for the second and third tickets,” Walls said. “If they don’t pay those in time, then they put a boot on their tire causing their car to not move.”