I believe we can no longer make these assumptions. We just need to hope and pray, each day, that our children are safe when they are in school. Please take a moment to read the news story and watch the accompanied video.
On October 6th, 2011 my cousin and her husband got the scare of their life. Their youngest daughter decided to leave school and go home by herself, in the middle of the day. She left her buddy and walked out the front door. No one noticed her leave. And no one noticed she was missing. The school is located on a very busy two lane road. There are no sidewalks and the trees crowd the streets, leaving very little area to walk. The traffic is constant and there are always speeders.
Her safety was threatened, not only by the traffic, but according to the 911 taped calls, by passers-by as well. She could very easily been picked up and taken, never to be seen again. Luckily, a good Samaritan stopped and helped Kiley home. When my cousin took her back to the the school, they thought she was checking her in for the day. When she told them that she had left and she was returning her, they were stunned.
When Kiley returned home, she brought with her a letter from the school office stating that "A student choose to leave the school property alone , she was helped her home by a good samaritian, the parents returned to school with her, she is safe. Please talk to you childern about NOT leaving school grounds without adult permission." In essence, they blamed a six year old. Here's the school's response to the news inquiry:
Yes, she did do something wrong. She got punished for it. But it is not entirely her fault! She's six! How is it that the school can blame the child and get away with it? Where were the ADULTS? Why didn't the "buddy" say something to an adult? Why were they not supervising? How can the front office not notice a child walk out the front door? How can a teacher not know she is missing a child? How can no one notice?
It has now been almost a week. My cousin is still heartbroken. Her oldest daughter is now having nightmares. An alternative school is an option and she is hoping the School Board will allow her to go out of her district (but we all know how bureaucratic red tape is). She has not allowed her children to return to the school until something is done--change in policy, disciplinary action of the adults involved. But what is the school doing? Nothing, not even a simple apology. They still place the blame on a six year old. The Sheriff's office is at least looking into disciplining their officers for not responding in a timely manner.
My cousin and her family do not see the sense in a lawsuit. The school board has taken enough cuts to their budget as it is, no need to add to their financial difficulty. (Still does not excuse the lack of caring and safety!) However, I am one to believe that no action on their part will not solve the problem. Maybe a lawsuit with no compensation would be the necessary slap to the face of those in charge and get them to notice that no one seems to care about the children.
Honestly, how can you blame a six year old for the mess this is? How can no one care about a child?