Ilana Gold, David DeJesus
Parents in Sterling are demanding answers after frightening mix up at a local school.
Days after a great-grandfather brought the wrong boy home from school, the boy's mother is calling administrators incompetent and demanded that the school take action.
Angela Stone said her 5-year-old son was waiting for the bus at Sterling Community School on Friday when a man walked up to him and mistook the little boy for his own great-grandson and brought the boy to his house.
Only then did he realize he had the wrong child.
"Once the grand great-grandmother sees the boy and removes his hat, she realizes it's not her great-grandson and calls the school to say the great-grandfather has taken the wrong kid," Stone said during an emergency Board of Education meeting held in Sterling on Tuesday night.
Up until that point, the school had been unaware the boy was missing. Stone said her son arrived home in a state of shock and refused to talk about what had happened.
"This unbelievable and terrifying incident has placed a spotlight on the school's lack of security, particularly at bus pick-up and drop-off time," she said.
Angela Stone called school leaders incompetent and demanded that disciplinary action be taken against the administration.
The boy's uncle, Paul Stone, said he was upset with how the school handled the incident.
"The school asked him to bring the child back," Paul Stone explained. "That was a totally inappropriate response. They should have, at that point, called authorities and had them go handle the child."
"I do understand how upsetting this is," said Sterling Supt. Rena Klebart. "I understand how upset our staff is because we take our responsibility very seriously."
Klebart said the grandfather followed the school's policy by showing ID and signing out the correct student.
School staff members should have watched him retrieve the child, Klebart said, and that part of the incident is under investigation.
"Of course it's concerning. We are responsible for the safety of our children," she said. "We’ve increased the number of staff members who are on-duty during dismissal."
The school has revised the policy for picking up students since the incident on Friday, adding more sign-out tables to avoid congestion and possible confusion.
Additionally, if a child is being picked up from school, a parent or guardian needs to send the child to school with a note, according to the Norwich Bulletin.
Klebart said the school is working to make sure something like this never happens again.
But Angela Stone said this isn't the first time school security concerns have been brought to light.
"We all expressed that dismissal was a disaster waiting to happen," she said. "This past Friday, that disaster became my family's reality."