WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — 45 minutes — that’s how long a 5th grade student went missing Monday at Tinker Elementary School in Waterbury.
“If it was my kid, I’d be pissed,” one parent said.
The child is safe. He was found alone at his home, which is about two blocks from the school. A school district spokesman says the child walked home and had a key. As soon as school officials at Tinker Elementary discovered he was missing, they called Waterbury Police. Officers conducted a search for him. He turned up in the first place they looked.
However, news of a child disappearing for almost an hour sent a ripple effect of concern.
“It’s wrong,” said Gloria Gee, one of the crossing guards in front of the school.
“It concerns me greatly,” said Robert Brenker — Chief Operating Officer of Waterbury Public Schools. “Everyday our main focus in this district is on the safety of our students first.”
But, as parents showed up to pick up their kids after school on Wednesday, many wondered how something like this could happen.
“I think there’s a little bit of a lack of security in the school,” one parent said.
News8 asked Robert Brenker to explain what happened.
“Yesterday morning (Monday), while the students were entering, a teacher stopped one of the students because of a violation of one of the school rules,” Brenker said. “The students was well-behaved in the discussion, but wouldn’t comply with the rule. The teacher brought the student into the main office to discuss with the administrators who were present yesterday and it was decided that the student should see the school nurse.”
But, instead of going to the nurse’s office, the student walked out the front door. This was around 8:30am — 15 minutes after crossing guards like Gloria Gee are no longer outside.
“We would’ve said to him where are you going? Get back to school,” Gee said.
The child is okay, but this incident did have alarm bells going off in people’s minds.
“Anybody could’ve walked down the street and grabbed him,” Gee said.
Everyone is relieved that didn’t happen. But, Brenker promises a full investigation. He says the findings will go all the way to the Mayor’s office.
“We are going to do an investigation and find out if there were any of our policies that were not followed or if we need any new policies adopted,” Brenker said. “Parents should know we’re concerned everyday about their students’ safety and we take it as our highest priority and we’re going to find out what happened in this case and why.”