The Herald Bulletin

May 16, 2013

Mom of son locked in school demands answers

8-year-old was left inside Valley Grove Elementary after hours

By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — The family of a child who was left unsupervised for nearly four hours at Valley Grove Elementary is demanding faculty be held accountable.

In the meantime, Joyce Larry, mother of 8-year-old Damarion Larry, said she is transferring three of her eight children out of Valley Grove. In a phone interview, she accused the school staff of negligence in its duty to ensure Damarion was watched during detention Tuesday afternoon.

According to a police report from the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Damarion fell asleep while in detention and didn’t hear the bell or realize it was time to head for the buses. None of the school faculty checked on the student or realized he was still in the office. The boy called 911 at about 6 p.m., crying and telling dispatchers he had been locked inside the school

Anderson Community Schools Superintendent Felix Chow said he is awaiting a report on the incident from Valley Grove Principal Jan Koeniger, who would contact Larry and discuss the matter. Larry said Tuesday afternoon she hadn’t been contacted by Koeniger.

Chow said nobody saw Damarion in the detention rooms or anywhere else in the school. He said the school system’s policy is to always have an adult supervising children in detention.

“What we know right now is between about 3:20 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., the student is not seen by any adult,” Chow said.

Maj. Brian Bell of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department said police took the call and are conducting an investigation. But he said the situation is likely to be resolved within the school system.

Larry said when she hadn’t seen her son by 4:30 p.m., she became concerned and asked members of her family whether anyone had seen Damarion. The mother said she is upset with how the school handled the supervision of her son, and also with the detention procedure.

“He’s asthmatic ,and I know he was hungry if it was getting that late,” Larry said. “I just don’t see any compassion or sympathy on (the faculty’s) part.”

Anderson Board of Public Safety member Bill Watson said ACS’s posture on the matter is far too lighthearted, and he’s encouraging Larry to make a formal complaint to the school board.

“My concern isn’t just about this one student; it’s about all students,” Watson said. “Somebody has to take charge for this.”

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