Lost child prompts Sumter school changes

The (Sumter) ItemAugust 20, 2013 

stock photo: Young child walks to or from school

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School officials are making changes to after-school dismissal procedures at Crosswell Drive Elementary School after a 5-year-old kindergarten student who was supposed to be bused to day care was found by law enforcement wandering the streets nearly a mile from the school.

The child, found near the corner of Church and Broad streets, was unharmed but was approached by a Sumter County Sheriff’s Office deputy Monday afternoon because the child appeared lost. According to a police report, the child told the officer she had been instructed to walk home at the end of the first day of school by a teacher.

Shelly Galloway, spokeswoman for Sumter School District, said the child had accidentally gotten into the line with other children who walk home after school, and having removed her badge that indicated she needed to get on a bus to day care instead, was allowed to leave the campus.

Law enforcement contacted the child’s mother and then the child’s day care center. Shortly afterward, an official with the center arrived at the Church Street location and transported the child to her after-school center, at the mother’s request.

Galloway said that both Anne McFadden, the newly installed principal at Crosswell Drive, and Superintendent Dr. Frank Baker had spoken with the student’s mother. In addition, both the teacher involved and the rest of the school staff have discussed the matter.

“Crosswell Drive Elementary takes the safety of their children very seriously, and the principal addressed this issue with the child’s teacher in addition to the rest of the staff,” Galloway said.

Because of the incident, teachers from each grade level at Crosswell Drive are now tasked with specifically monitoring students from the grades they teach as they depart from school, rather than being assigned to the various departure points.

“The grade-level teachers are more familiar with their students, and that is one extra measure they will take to ensure the students arrive at their correct destinations,” Galloway said.

Each school establishes its own after-school procedures, Galloway said, so the changes were only necessary at Crosswell Drive, rather than district wide. She added each school, however, will continue to monitor its dismissal procedures to see if any changes need to be made to help ensure student safety.

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