KCK family upset with school after 5-year-old walks out and wanders over a mile away

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- There are a lot of questions after a 5-year-old girl wandered out of New Chelsea Elementary School in KCK and ended up over a mile away.

Now, her family members want answers and a look into current security measures.

"Anything could have happened to my grand-baby, and for no one to be able to give me answers to how this happened? I have a problem with that," said Vickie Black, little Harmony's grandmother.

It's been less than a week of kindergarten classes for Harmony, and when her grandfather went to pick her up Tuesday, he said that was the beginning of a situation scary enough to terrify any parent or guardian.

"When he got there, they called her name three times, and she did not come out the building. She was gone," Black said.

School surveillance video reportedly shows the 5-year-old walking out of the front doors alone, leaving the school, located on 25th and Wood Avenue and ending up more than a mile away near 38th and State Avenue.

In an attempt to make it to her grandfather's house, the girl weaved through traffic, crossed busy four-lane intersections for nearly an hour before being spotted by a good Samaritan as she made her way onto the interstate.

“Thank God I got her back, but I still have a lot of questions for the school. Since this happened, what can you do to make sure the security is much better on the inside? Because I see them all outside on the perimeter and things, but letting the kids come out of the building when they are not supposed to," said Harmony's grandfather, Ronald Cline.

Besides being upset about what could have happened, the family is also questioning how she was able to leave the school in the first place, and the effort school officials put into finding her.

"We got her. We found her. They didn't find her. They didn't put the effort to try and go find her," Cline said.

A spokesperson for Kansas City Kansas Public Schools responded to FOX4's request for comment on the situation:

All students exit the building according to their mode of transportation home designated by their parents or guardians. The car riders exit from the gymnasium and the walkers and bus riders exit from their classrooms with supervision. This  system has worked well and has been in place for several years.  

On Tuesday, Aug. 13, one of our students who is normally picked up by a relative became mixed in with the bus riders and accidentally exited the school on foot at the end of the school day. When the family member indicated the student did not exit the building for pick up where they had the day before, we immediately checked the school‘s premises.

Unable to find the student, we contacted the Transportation Department, the district’s Campus Police and the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, all in accordance with the district’s safety procedures.

We are saddened that this happened to one of our students. We are also extremely grateful that our student was found unharmed and safely returned to family. The safety of our students is priority. To help prevent this from happening in the future, we are reviewing our practices and putting extra resources in place to help students successfully exit the building.

The family said they still want answers and believe the current practices of check-in and check-out should be updated, more guidance for younger students, and stricter security measures.

They say this should be an eye-opener and lesson for everyone.

"I just thank God it ended the way it ended and we have our baby safe," Black said.



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