Lost at School

This isn’t a fun post. I had to wait a week to write about it to ensure that my emotions didn’t get the best of me. The punch line, brought to the beginning, is that our school lost our child.

It started with my wife calling the school in the morning to tell them that Evie would be riding the bus instead of walking. It ended with my wife finding my child at school, 2 hours after she was dismissed from class. What conspired in the middle was a morass of incompetence that makes me wonder what type of organization is running our schools.

Here’s the blow-by-blow, with names removed for privacy.

11:30ish: I called the office to say that Evie should take the bus. XXX said she’d pass on the note to YYY.
3:15: I waited at the bus stop
3:40: I am still waiting at the bus stop. I call ZZZ at the head of transportation and get his voicemail. I call AAA and he can’t get ahold of the driver or dispatch and says he’ll call me back.
3:50: I am now in car at bus stop. AAA calls me back and says Evie never got on bus, must be at school.
3:55: I call the school three times, get voicemail, so I get in the car to come find her and Ieave a message for BBB.
4:00: I come in front office, no one there, I go to gym, ask the PNA (the official after school progarm) people if they have seen Evie, a woman at the table calls on walkie, and no one has seen Evie. She tells me to go to cafeteria. I go to cafeteria and I talk to a secretary and she walks me to office, and calls CCC center and they tell her Evie is there. She sends me to CCC center.
4:10: I park at CCC center, and walk to playground. DDD tells me Evie is not there. We walk into office and we speak to guy at front counter and i ask “Why did you tell PNA that Evie was here when DDD says she isn’t?” and he gives me some strange answer. No one makes an effort to help.
4:15-4:45: I walk back to school from CCC center and call BBB again. The only place I can think to look now is the playground where I saw kids playing from PNA. I wander there and see Evie. I ask the lady in charge who approaches, and she does not sound concerned that my child is there and is not enrolled. She also makes no apology. No one tried to call me. I am told some strange story about how Evie is the girl who they tried to call home once but her phone number wasn’t readable on her backpack, and she walks away. I tell her Evie knows her phone number, “Why didn’t anyone ask her or try to call me?”. Evie tells me that she told YYY that she needed to take the bus, but YYY saw “walker” on her calendar so she put her in the walker line…and then when I didn’t come to get her, they sent her to PNA.
Evie has now missed her gymnastics class and I spent two hours concerned, hot, and frustrated by lack of communication.
4:55: I walk with Evie back to CCC center to get my car and we drive home.
5:00: I arrive home with Evie (two hours later).

Why am I posting this? One is that I am amazed at the incompetency displayed by just about everyone in this system that involved four organizations whose main job is to TAKE CARE OF CHILDREN. The lack of concern and the lack of real-time communication was conspicuous, especially in the days of cell phones.

I’m not after retribution. I’m not into shaming the people involved. All I know is that if this was a private company, someone’s job would have been lost. It’s that simple to me. However, since this involved a public institution with complicated labor relations, the most that could have been done was a reprimand. This is my opinion and not a fact, but it does discourage me on the amount of progress that will be possible in a public school system.

We have chosen the public schools and will likely continue in the public schools, but this situation fans the flames of those that believe the only way to improve education is outside the existing public organizations. In my experience, incompetency is rarely isolated in an organization. If it is tolerated in one area, other areas are likely infected.

I want to believe that public education in the US can rise to the challenge. My belief has now been shaken.

Categories: Deep Thoughts

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3 replies »

  1. I agree that the principal should be issuing an apology and an explanation to you — and a report on how this won’t happen again. You must have been very very scared. So sorry to hear that.

  2. Wow Paul, that is pretty scary when you think about what could’ve happened to Evie. Usually the classroom teacher is the one to walk the child to the office where they try to call home if not picked up. I would ask to speak with the principal to make sure this does not happen again, there were so many people who didn’t do their jobs,

  3. Very well said. I still get a wave of panic when I even think of this!! But thankful we have a God who protects,- our El Shaddai!!

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