Health + Safety

Dad Outraged After School Lets Grandmother Take Home Wrong Child

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A New Jersey father is outraged after school officials accidentally sent his 3-year-old daughter home with a complete stranger last week.

Gemar Mills, 31, from Paterson, says staff at Dale Avenue School put the life of his daughter, Madison, at risk by allowing her to go home with a woman who mistook the toddler for her granddaughter.

The apparent mix-up happened when a grandmother, who had not seen her granddaughter for nine months, went to the school at dismissal time to pick up the girl and was accidentally sent home with a girl who was also named Madison, according to a school district spokeswoman.

“The person who is supposed to pick up a child must be on the list, if not the parent,” Mills told WABC-TV New York of  security protocol.”They did not send the parent inside to be identified. They simply took her word for it that she was the grandparent of the child and allowed her to leave the premises with my child.”

Not only did the school officials risk security by failing to properly identify the woman, the school did not follow it’s own protocol by failing to call the police when they realized the child was missing. Instead, the school reached out to the grandmother first.

District leaders acknowledged the mishap and apologized, saying in a statement, “Within minutes, the school principal realized the mistake and worked quickly to ensure the child was returned safely to the school (which she was within 30 minutes). Disciplinary action has been taken for the two staff members who released the child.”

A Paterson Public Schools spokesperson added, “This school has taken additional steps to further tighten up security during dismissal of students.”

The school’s explanation and apology is not enough for the father who says the experience has left him afraid for his child’s safety, and his daughter shaken.

“She keeps telling me, ‘I went to the lady’s house and then the man yelled out, ‘That’s not our baby, bring her back,'” he said. “She remembers that stuff.”

“She says, ‘I don’t wanna go to school, I don’t want that lady to get me,” he said.

He said he’s reported the incident to state child protective services.

(Photo Credit: WABC-TV New York)