DISD MIX UP:Dallas student was not kidnapped, police say

kidnap suspect

DALLAS — A little boy left his Dallas elementary school with a stranger Tuesday afternoon — and his teacher allowed it.

Dallas police are calling the incident a big misunderstanding that led to some very scary moments for the Maple Lawn Elementary School staff, parents and police.

The five-year-old kindergarten student was found safe about two hours later, a mile-and-a-half from the school.

Police outlined what they called “severe miscommunication” on the part of the man who picked up the wrong child, and on the part of the teacher who did not follow procedures by failing to check the man’s identification.

The concern showed on the faces of DISD parents as they raced to the school to find their children after learning of the kidnapping report.

But there was no kidnapping.

“He was there on legitimate business to pick up another child and made a mistake and went off with the wrong child,” said C.L. Williams, a Dallas police spokesman.

The boy who left with the man is five years old. His teacher let him leave with the man, launching an intensive manhunt for a purple van.

“The youngster in question was too young to realize what was going on, and went willingly with this individual,” Williams said.

And then, there was the teacher’s decision-making. He didn’t check the man’s identification.

Each DISD school has its own dismissal policy, but it’s Day 2 of the school year, and the authorization forms hadn’t yet been turned in.

“On any other given day, we would have information about the parent’s name, the guardian name, or any other person who’s authorized to pick up a child,” said DISD spokeswoman Sandra Guerrero. “But since this is only the second day of school, we don’t have that information yet.”

Police say the district’s safety should not be judged by this one incident, but parents are not that sure.

“I’m going to switch schools,” said Basha Sanders, whose child attends Maple Lawn Elementary. “It shocked the hell out of me. Excuse me for cussing. It shocked the mess out of me. My heart just started really, really pounding.”

The man who mistakenly took the boy out of school was taken into custody for minor and unrelated charges.

The kindergarten student is safe and with his family.

As for the teacher, it was not clear if or how he would be disciplined.

We checked other school districts for their dismissal policies. In Fort Worth, all elementary students are walked outside with an adult who makes sure they meet a parent, a pre-arranged person, or board a bus.

In Denton, anyone who picks up a child must be on an approved list; a list that the parent made during registration.

The Birdville ISD also requires parents to provide a list of approved people before a child can be registered.

Irving has a file for each child on who his or her guardians are, and which adults are authorized for pick-ups.

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