The Herald Bulletin

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Local News

May 15, 2013

ACS implements changes after student discovered left alone

Second-grader said he fell asleep

ANDERSON, Ind. — Anderson school officials hope to have an explanation Thursday about how a Valley Grove Elementary second-grader was left alone at school for several hours after dismissal on Tuesday.

No one knew the child was missing until he called 911 and told authorities where he was, said Anderson Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Felix Chow.

The student told school officials he fell asleep in a room, but it was not clear on Wednesday where in the building he was, Chow said.

“The good news is the child was not hurt. But that does not alleviate the responsibility on our part as a school system to account for why a child was left behind in a locked school,” Chow said. “I’m glad he had the good sense to call 911.”

According to Chow, the student was sent to the principal’s office, but was later escorted back to class by the dean. What happened after that is unclear, except the child went undetected until he woke up and called 911,

“No adult who might have seen this child alone in a room, or asleep, would have left that child alone,” Chow said.

A complicating factor of why no one suspected anything was amiss is that the child has his choice of taking two school buses. One takes him home; the other carries him to a cousin’s house. That was an option provided to the student at his parent’s request, Chow said.

Donzetta Clay, the student’s aunt, said family members searched for the boy, called the school and went to the building when he didn’t arrive home on time.

“The mother was at the school trying to find her way in,” Clay said. She added that the child was still upset about the incident on Wednesday.

Bill Watson, a member of the Anderson Board of Public Safety, called the incident a “serious lapse in leadership.”

“This is very traumatic, and this level of neglect is a serious breach of administrative protocol,” he said.

School officials reported the case to Child Protective Services; however, the agency decided it did not need to intervene, Chow said.

New administrative procedures have already been implemented to make sure an incident like this doesn’t happen again, Chow said.

From now on, an adult will always accompany children to their destinations and back again if necessary, he added.

Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.

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