STERLING, Conn. (AP) — Parents in a small eastern Connecticut town are demanding action by local officials after a man went to a school to pick up his great-grandson and took the wrong child home, possibly because the boys were wearing similar hats.
The mother of the 5-year-old boy who was wrongly taken, Angela Stone, was among the parents who criticized Sterling school officials during an education board meeting Tuesday night.
Stone said her son was waiting for his bus home at the Sterling Community School on Friday afternoon when the man mistook him for his great-grandson, took him to his car and drove him to his house. School officials haven’t identified the man.
Stone said her son noticed the man wasn’t driving the correct direction, questioned him during the ride and refused to get out of the car at the man’s home. Stone said she was told that the man’s wife noticed the mistake and the couple contacted school officials, who had the man drive the boy back to the school and had a bus take the boy home.
School Superintendent Rena Klebart said the man’s great-grandson and Stone’s son were wearing similar hats and Stone’s son had his hat pulled down low, which may explain the mix-up.
Parents said they had previously raised concerns with school administrators about problems during pickup times.
“We had all expressed that dismissal time was a disaster waiting to happen,” Stone said. “And this past Friday that disaster became my family’s reality. It infuriates me that it took this incident for administration to make the beginning steps of policy change.”
Stone said school officials should have taken the incident more seriously and called police, but didn’t. She said she was the one who called state police.
Klebart acknowledged that school staffers made mistakes, including not contacting police immediately. She said school officials are investigating and will take steps to prevent similar mix-ups.
Several people at the school board meeting Tuesday night called for disciplinary action against Klebart and the school principal.