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Old 03-01-2014, 01:23 PM   #1
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Default Nightmare potential situation

The last few weeks have been trying, but yesterday made me furious.

When that potential abduction scare happened on the elementary school campus next to ours, just a few short weeks ago, I spoke to the local police officer responsible for maintaining safety in the neighborhood schools. I haven't been able to get the conversation out of my mind. We discussed our campus's weaknesses and strengths. One of the things that he agreed with me about was the need for a perimeter fence. There are several closely grouped buildings but 4 entrances and big fields for grades k-8. The kinders are in their own building with 2 entrances and move from building to building for lunch and arts classes. We have one guy who walks around and knows all the parents, but he can't be everywhere at once. the officer also said it only takes a second for one kid to go outside the classroom to get something from his or her book bag, which are along the outside walls (I hate that) and be grabbed. So I asked the parent group if there any way to have a fence put in place around our school, that I understand that we rent the property, but I think our children's safety can't be undersold. Can we raise funds for this? They said their group's job is to come up with fun activities, not do that. But they would pass it on. Seriously?!!

Then, the very next freaking day, yesterday, this happened, which I wrote back to the parenting group about:

Thank you for your response about the perimeter fence. This is disturbingly, hauntingly timely today, as I was told by my daughter's teacher that she had wandered off and no one knew where she was. I cannot tell you how terrifying that was to me.

The class was moving from the lunch building to their next activity and my daughter was unaccounted for. Her location was assumed, instead of checked on by her teacher. That was completely unacceptable. Clearly, some method of communicating where students are before they move from building to building is essential and lacking. She had wandered off at some point during lunch and was standing next to another building. It wasn't until after the class was settled at their next activity that she was even looked for. It takes seconds to snatch a child. She was gone for many minutes.

She's five. Although we had a profound conversation about this when we got home, it is the school's job to ensure the safety of our children when we cannot be there watching them. I want that perimeter fence put in place as soon as possible. Whatever it takes. I would imagine any parent in my shoes would feel the same.

Although the family connections group is dedicated to "fun-raising," when I spoke to the police officer in charge of safety in our neighborhood, he was clear that it is up to the parents to take action on increasing the security for our children. We need to know what the next step is to get this fencing in place. And then we as parents need to act on it.

The programing director asked if she could pass my email on to the Health and Safety committee, which I said of course, yes. That the director is working on it, to which I said tell me if he needs back up making phone calls and writing letters, whatever it takes.
----

I will be in the office monday demanding an accounting system be immediately implemented for moving groups between buildings.

Add on that DD appears to be allergic to wheat with the potential for celiac's disease and has a foul blockage in her colon that may have been building for months-- I will be giving her medicine all day today to allow it to pass. And of course, tons due in school next week.

I haven't screamed yet, but I sure do want to.

Long talk with DD about safety, holding back my rage at the situation, not wanting to scare her yet she must grasp the danger, but calmly talking with tears running down my face. I can only pray she got some of the message to not wander off.
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Old 03-01-2014, 01:41 PM   #2
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

im surprised they don't have a ' buddy system' in place. I have sub'ed for 10 years and if i let a child out of class room even to the bathroom, they need a buddy to go with them.

I would be outraged too, you go girl! Light it up !
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Old 03-01-2014, 02:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

They do have a buddy system in place. But it is not well supervised. I will bring that up as well on Monday. Thanks.
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Old 03-01-2014, 06:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

Double checking is essential.

Perimeter fence...... Not sure how essential that is without seeing the property and how it works. If the school rents, building one may not be possible. That really is left up to the landlord. Stranger abduction is actually rare. The vast majority of children taken are taken by people they know. A buddy system would help eliminate that issue.
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Old 03-01-2014, 06:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

Anyone can walk right in to every single classroom. Other schools rent their property and put up fences, and the school is a charter that rents from the school district.
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Old 03-01-2014, 07:07 PM   #6
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

Ever since the shooting in CT our school doors are locked. All of them, all of the time. You have to use an intercom and identify yourself - on video, not just by voice - before you are permitted to enter any school building. Only those who work in the building all day have keys and all employees have photo ID's that must be displayed at all times....though I notice some getting lax about that.

Of course, that doesn't help much when activities take place outside the building, but for us that is not as big of an issue as it would be with the set up you describe.

I hope you can make some progress.
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Old 03-01-2014, 08:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

That's exactly what I'm talking about. I can't tell you how completely unguarded this place is. It's the only school in the area that offers all of the programs that other schools are cutting, like he and all of the arts programming and Spanish everyday. But at what price?

There has to be some kind of middleground, but this seems to farted the other end of the spectrum.
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Old 03-03-2014, 04:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

Good luck, onefinewoman, please keep us updated on how your meeting went today!
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Old 03-04-2014, 01:56 PM   #9
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

UPDATE: I called the school back at 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon. I was directed to the operations manager, which should have been what the principal did first thing yesterday morning, since she is in charge of all safety operations. It turns out that there is a protocol already in place that the substitute did not follow and absolutely should have. She should have immediately gone to the playground supervisor who has a walkie-talkie as soon as she knew she was short three kids. That supervisor has a walkie-talkie that communicates with six others all over campus and instantaneously a search would have commenced. In response to what happened to DD, instead of telling substitutes that this is protocol, it will now be in bold at the top of the page they receive every time they substitute. Cones are being put in place to show the parameters of where children are allowed to play.

Moreover, all students are frequently reminded to be on the lookout for people who do not belong and immediately report them to the adults. DD has been reminded that if she sees someone she doesn't know or is feeling sad or worried about something, to always seek out a grown-up to talk to about it instead of walking off on her own.

The implementation of constructing a perimeter fence began four years ago and continues to move through channels. They expect construction to begin this summer, since bids have been put out to three different contractors. They got the go-ahead earlier in the year because other district schools had them, so it could be requisitioned.

It has been the school's top priority to put in place for a long time.

It turns out that DD has been hiding from the teachers. And the location of the kindergarten lineup after lunch has been changed so that she cannot hide in those places. DD and my conversations are,of course, ever ongoing and broadening. There's only so much the little brain can take in at once before it will tune out.

In discussion with ex & MIL, X ordered a tracker GPS that connects to our phones. It will arrive within a day or so. I will put it on DD's shoe and set her school area as a perimeter. The operations manager and I will have a discussion with DD in her office about this tracker to coordinate conveying the importance of DD being where she needs to be. I am so wiped out I can't even say.

Another mom who was volunteering at the school this morning took me aside to give me comfort and more information. Her son is similar to DD. She talked to me about how well the school has handled safety issues and it helped to have that reaching out of support.
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Old 03-04-2014, 04:42 PM   #10
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

wow, that is a great protocol they have in place and i'm glad to hear the fence is in the works! Good for you for finding more information and for making sure the school notifies all subs about how to handle a situation like this in the future.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:26 AM   #11
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

Wow, the tracker GPS seems extreme, but I guess if I was in your shoes I wold probably consider going that route too!

Sounds like you had a terrifying ordeal and I am sure glad everything turned out okay. This is a little scary for me because my son is going to be starting kindergarden this year. He is 5 but will turn 6 a month after he starts school. His school doesn't have a perimeter fence, though there is one around the play area, however, my won't need to leave the building for lunch or anything like that.

Good luck, and I am glad it turned out okay in the end!!
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:22 PM   #12
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

On the one hand the GPS seems extreme to me too - but the other hand is googling to find out where I can get one. Sometimes I think being a single parent only amplifies the natural paranoia that comes with any type of parenting. Stories of children in jeopardy has a weird effect on me - I can't even watch *fictional* shows/movies that feature a kid in danger. Scary story onefinewoman - but I'm glad it's working out to a happy ending!
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:46 PM   #13
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Default Re: Nightmare potential situation

I had a similar situation with my daughter's middle school. She is on the autism spectrum and I informed the school on multiple occassions (even before the school year started) that when "stressed" she will run and hide. She was unaccounted for for almost an hour 1 day and no one told me. Then she disappeared from her gym class, wandered the halls (I think) and left the building. The school "assumed" she got on her bus. I was very lucky that is exactly what she did, but for an hour I no one knew for sure and the school didn't seem to care. I reported them to the Department of Elementary and Seconday Education and there is surrently an investigation pending.

I wish you the best of luck with getting the fence. It is really hard work, but if we don't fight hard for it, it seems no one else will keep our kids safe.
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