Officials in South Sound’s largest school district said Wednesday that they’ll review morning supervision routines and increase staff and volunteers at Lacey Elementary School after a kindergartner managed to leave campus and walk at least a mile home this week.
“Student safety is the ultimate priority in our schools and district,” said Courtney Schrieve, a spokeswoman for North Thurston Public Schools. “We are so grateful that this student is safe.”
At about 8 a.m. Monday, John Canales said he watched his son board a school bus.
About 45 minutes later, one of the school’s office staff called him and asked where his son was.
“I said, ‘I don’t know, you tell me — he should be there right now,” Canales said.
The office staff member said during roll call, other students reported that they had seen the boy at school, according to Canales.
Shortly after that, the boy turned up at his house, where his mom was sick and resting with their six-month-old baby.
“He said he was tired and just wanted to give mom a hug and a kiss,” Canales said.
Video footage provided to Canales by the school shows the boy running out of the school’s front doors, just before school was scheduled to begin.
But in order to get off school grounds, the boy had to go past several adults, including a volunteer crossing guard stationed across the street.
“What baffled me was the fact that he was able to get past so many (adults),” Canales said.
The boy told his parents that someone in a car stopped and asked him if his mama knew he was walking. Another car stopped and let him walk across a road on the way to their home.
Canales met with the school’s principal and district administrators. During the first meeting, Canales said he asked the school’s principal a series of questions about the morning routing, including how many staff members supervise school grounds and whose job it is to make sure a student makes it from the bus to the classroom.
“(The principal) said it’s the child’s responsibility to ensure they get from the bus to their designated space,” Canales said.
The father said he wanted to share his story with The Olympian to raise awareness for other families, in an effort to get security beefed up at schools.
“The questions are: what do we need to do locally? What are we doing to prevent against that (from happening again)?” Canales said.
Schrieve said district staff are reviewing procedures with staff and volunteers to make sure no students are allowed to leave campus once they arrive.
“We expect students to follow the routine and will remind them of that routine and why it’s important,” Schrieve said. “We do the best we can to monitor over 450 students (at that school) every day. We strive to keep all our students safe and will continue to work to do that to the best of our ability.”