Officials confer on parking problem near local school

Officials of the Town of Cutler Bay, M i a m i – D a d e County Police and Public Works Departments as well as Miami-Dade District Schools administrators are all looking into a parking problem at a local elementary school.

The problem of parents trying to find parking when picking up their children at Dr. Edward L. Whigham Elementary School, 21545 SW 87 Ave. in Cutler Bay, gained local media and Internet attention as a result of an incident that took place on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Rita Gabriela Guzman, a mother waiting to pick up her child at the school, was arrested on one count of resisting an officer without violence. Guzman had been parked in a grassy area marked “no parking or standing” along SW 87th Avenue, according to a Miami-Dade Police report. The report alleges that she had been asked to move, then was asked repeatedly for her driver’s license but refused to hand it over. She was removed from her car and struggled before being placed in handcuffs.

The arrest was captured on video and made the rounds of local TV news.

Guzman’s attorney, Lonnie Richardson, said Guzman suffered two sprained wrists and possibly a fracture, and has filed a formal complaint with the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Complicating matters for Cutler Bayofficials is that SW 87th Avenue is a county road not under the jurisdiction of the town, and school procedures are under the jurisdiction of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Town manager Rafael Casals said in a phone interview that he is reaching out to everyone involved.

“This was an unfortunate incident for both parties, which is now being reviewed by the Professional Compliance Bureau (Internal Affairs) of the Miami-Dade Police Department,” Casals said. “The Town of Cutler Bay plans to work with the school, the county’s Public Works Department and the police to take a look at this and ensure that a safe and manageable pickup and drop-off area is provided.”

While not responding directly to a request of comment, Whigham Elementary staff forwarded a copy of memos to parents sent out in August and early September detailing drop-off and pickup procedures and the use of the “car pool lane,” which said that if parents needed to park they should use the grassy areas in front of the school.

The no parking signs were put up after that by the county, and Miami-Dade Police began giving out warnings, and then tickets.

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