Fort Bend ISD leaders are working to examine how their school dismissal process broke down after a 4-year-old pre-K student was able to walk out of Rosa Parks Elementary School Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m absolutely outraged that this was able to happen,” Stephanie Gonzalez said. “He had somehow managed to slip through the cracks and leave the school without anybody noticing.”
Gonzalez said the little boy from Rosa Parks Elementary School walked two blocks from the school and ended up on her front doorstep.
“I was like, ‘Are you lost? What’s going on?’ And he nodded yes, that he seemed lost,” she recalled.
A tag on the boy’s backpack alerted her to his name and grade, and that’s when she realized he should never have been allowed to leave the campus.
“Not only is he able to walk away from the school, but then he’s able to come up to a stranger’s house. Imagine if he was found by somebody else with bad intentions before he came up to my house. Imagine if I wasn’t here. Would he have sat on my doorstep? Would he have kept walking?” Gonzalez said.
She and her family loaded the child into their truck, while another neighbor called the school to report the missing child.
It was during that phone call that the neighbors learned the school employees didn’t seem to know the little boy was missing.
“They asked the kid’s name and I provided the kid’s name and they were like, ‘Well, he knew that he’s supposed to come here.’ Like they placed blame on the kid versus taking responsibility,” Ty, the other good Samaritan who asked to only use her first name, said.
Fort Bend ISD responded to the incident with this statement:
“In an extremely unfortunate mix-up at dismissal time (Tuesday), a student followed a friend into the line for ‘walkers’ instead of being directed to the Extended Day program and departed from campus. After being made aware of the mistake, school leaders contacted the parents to inform them and apologize. We are very grateful that our student was safely returned to our campus. School leadership is meeting with staff today to analyze where our dismissal system broke down and to put new measures in place to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.”
Reporters spoke with the child’s father by phone, who said he was too distressed over the incident to speak on camera but is very thankful to the two good Samaritans who took great care and quickly returned his son to school.
“How is he able to just walk out of the front door without anybody noticing him at all?” Gonzalez said.