GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A Grand Rapids mother is outraged after her kindergartener left school by himself.
The 5-year-old walked a half-mile home from Harrison Park Elementary School alone.
"I came home from work at 3 and I get a knock at the door at 3:17," said Honie Blackburn "It's my 5-year-old by himself. He walked home from school."
Blackburn's son was directed to go to the office to meet his mother's cousin, who was sent to pick him up, about 15 minutes before school let out Wednesday.
A statement from Grand Rapids Public Schools said it's fairly common for students to go to the office when family members arrive at the school early to pick them up.
But instead of going to the office, the 5-year-old walked out of the building and then home by himself. To get there, he had to cross busy Leonard Street alone.
"I want to know how she couldn't assist him to the office. You're talking a 5-year-old. How is a 5-year-old going to be responsible for themself?" she demanded. "They didn't see him leave. They don't know how he left or when he left. School don't even get out 'til 3:15."
When school staff realized the kindergartener was missing, 24 Hour News 8 was told, they looked for him for 20 minutes.
"The Harrison staff followed every protocol and procedure to locate the student and were relieved that the child was safe and secure," said a statement from GRPS spokesman John Helmholdt.
District officials told 24 Hour News 8 they'll use the incident as a learning tool for the future.
"We are investigating the situation and the school is looking at a buddy system or other procedures to ensure this situation never happens again," the statement said.
But district officials also said the mother didn't tell them until after the incident that her son had run away from home in the past. They say if they would've known beforehand, they likely wouldn't have let him leave the classroom alone.
Blackburn questions whether her child is safe at school.
"He's in their care from 8:30 to 3:19. They were responsible for him," she said. "What if he didn't know his way home? We'd be looking for my child right now."
Blackburn will meet with school officials Thursday to discuss how to keep something similar from happening again.
Full statement from GRPS:
"We certainly acknowledge and share in mom's concerns and frustration. Our dedicated and caring staff were equally shocked when a very common situation where a student is sent to the office for early pick up by family resulted in a missing child who left school and walked home unexpectedly. The Harrison staff followed every protocol and procedure to locate the student and were relieved that the child was safe and secure. We are investigating the situation and the school is looking at a buddy system or other procedures to ensure this situation never happens again."
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