Parking Tickets Cause Student’s Car to Get Booted


Claire Benson

This is the parking lot of Westside High School, 8701 Pacific Street, Omaha Nebraska.

Junior Sophie Wetzel has experienced not one, but two occasions in which a boot has been placed on a tire of her car by the school. Wetzel has acquired a large amount of parking tickets, around 27, causing the school to boot her car as a form of punishment. Wetzel said she feels getting to school on time takes higher priority than parking in the appropriate area.

“If I get here, and there’s no parking on the hill left, I park in the lot, that way I can get to school on time,” Wetzel said.

Churches in the near vicinity of Westside such as Christ the King as well as Pacific Hills have offered space in their parking lots for Westside students to park in; making this an option for students not wanting to fight for a spot on the hill every morning. These passes must be paid for, and are not directly on Westside’s campus, not always making them desirable for students.

“When I should have gotten a [parking] pass, I didn’t have money at the time, so I thought ‘I’ll just get here early enough’, but I haven’t, so the tickets began to build up,” Wetzel said.

Dean Jordan Rhodes handles most of the parking situations at Westside, and gives an example of how a student would receive a boot on their car.

“For a number of parking tickets that would be beyond what is reasonable … and there’s not an exact number … usually we start noticing when [the tickets] get into the teens, and [if] they’re not getting paid down, then we say ‘ok a behavior here isn’t changing’, and that is when they would get a boot,” Rhodes said.

Wetzel discusses her reaction when she noticed a boot had been placed on her car.

“The first time, I kind of just freaked out, and went off on Mr. Rhodes,” Wetzel said. “The second time, I just thought ‘this is stupid’, Rhodes had told me once you get 20 tickets, you get a boot, but I had paid more off so it wasn’t at 20 anymore.”

Rhodes said he believes placing a boot on a student’s car is form of punishment that encourages students to change their behavior.

“Some kids can learn to not make that same mistake after a ticket,” Rhodes said. “Some kids can learn to stop skipping class after a detention or two, some kids don’t learn that until they get an ISS, which really stinks. There’s different levels because some people will learn earlier on to change their behavior. Really, it’s about changing a behavior, so that the people that have been awarded [the privilege of a parking space], get to actually use that privilege.”

Contrary to Rhodes, Wetzel said she feels as though the school should not be allowed to place a boot on a student’s car.

“This is kind of [the school’s] fault that we’re put in a situation where we have to park where we’re not supposed to, I feel like they shouldn’t be allowed to [boot a student’s car],” Wetzel said. “It’s high school, obviously we have places to go after school, like I have to pick up my brother’s, and I was late to work because of [the boot].”

Wetzel said she thinks the limited parking at Westside is an unfair inconvenience for the students.

“I think that students shouldn’t have to pay for our school’s issues,” Wetzel said. “Obviously, everyone knows we have terrible parking and students shouldn’t have to be the ones who take the fall for that.”

Rhodes said distributing parking tickets is about more than paying the fines associated with them.

“It’s not so much about paying the fines,” Rhodes said. “The idea is that for the people that pay for the privilege of parking in the lot, we want them to be guaranteed a place to park in the place they’ve paid for.”

Rhodes also said he recognizes the lack of parking on Westside’s campus, sharing similar opinions as Wetzel.

“I would love to put more parking here,” Rhodes said. “There is no one, no staff member, no administrator, that is thrilled with the small amount of parking we have. Some students think we don’t understand parking is a problem, but we get it.”

Rhodes said he is open to ideas on how to improve the parking on Westside’s campus.

“I would be happy to listen to other options of ideas, of things that we could do with the limited amount of resources that we do have,” Rhodes said. “The goal is to make it better.”