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Child left behind on school field trip

SoVaNow.com / October 24, 2012
A four-year-old girl was left at Hill Ridge Farms in Youngsville, N.C. last week when a South Hill Elementary pre-K teacher did not follow roll call procedures on the way home from a school field trip.

Dr. James Thornton, superintendent of Mecklenburg County Schools, confirmed Monday that the girl was returned unharmed after being stranded at the Youngsville farm.

“There were procedures and routines in place that were not followed,” said Thornton. “I feel like we are very fortunate that nothing happened to the child and it should not have occurred. We are very sorry that it did occur and the parents have been very understanding.”

According to Thornton, South Hill Elementary principal Joan Covington sent out letters to all parents informing them of the incident and outlining new regulations and procedures for field trips to make sure such a thing doesn’t happen again.

Thornton also said that he would be meeting with leadership at every school in the county to evaluate current procedures.

“I am meeting with staff (Tuesday) afternoon so that we can implement this in all schools,” said Thornton. “We have protocol in place, but it doesn’t hurt to go over things again so this does not happen again.”

On Wednesday of last week, Irene Wyatt’s pre-K class went on a field trip to Hill Ridge Farms. According to the child’s family, the teacher’s aide counted 17 students and should have come up with 18. Wyatt told the teacher’s aide to count again and she said the second time she counted 18 students and the bus headed back to Virginia, said a family member.

Family members said the girl wandered around the farm until the management at the pumpkin patch found her and called South Hill Elementary to see if the school was missing a student. Someone from South Hill Elementary School picked her up and returned her safely to South Hill.

Thornton said that the case is being reviewed by Social Services and there will be disciplinary action following the investigation.

“Once it goes through Social Services, there will be a personnel outcome but there will be action taken. We can’t share what those outcomes are, but there will be an outcome,” said Thornton.



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