A kindergartner strolled out of an Arden Arcade elementary school Tuesday and took a walk to a nearby convenience store.
The little girl left her classroom at Greer Elementary School and went to the office because she wasn’t feeling well, said Trent Allen, San Juan Unified School District spokesman. The office staff told her to return to class at the direction of her family, he said.
Instead, the 5-year-old girl headed past the front gate of the school, crossing Hurley Way before arriving at a Quik Stop a quarter mile away. The store is next to the child’s home, Allen said.
In the meantime, school staff initiated a search after the girl’s teacher reported she hadn’t returned to class, Allen said. Ten minutes later, a Quik Stop clerk called the school and police to report an unsupervised young child.
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The vice principal brought the girl back to the school and informed her parents about what happened, Allen said. School officials met with the mother when she came to pick up her daughter at the end of the school day, he said.
The family could not be reached for comment, but mother Raeonna Ponce-Gonzales told Channel 10 that she has pulled her child out of the school because of the incident.
Usually, adults supervise kindergartners when they travel around the school, Allen said. But this particular kindergarten class is near the office, so staff have at times allowed children to go back and forth on their own, he said.
After Tuesday’s incident, all kindergartners must be escorted to and from the office by an adult, he said. The school’s safety committee also is looking at how staff can better supervise exits and entrances to the school, Allen said.
Greer Elementary, like many schools in San Juan Unified, was built in the 1950s and 1960s with many entrances and exits. The school will soon be remodeled, wing by wing, with security in mind, Allen said. The school will remain in session during the 18-month project, which begins in the spring.
The new design, which changes the orientation of the school to face Bell Street instead of Hurley Way, will include three classroom wings, a new multipurpose room and office. It will include extensive fencing and will have fewer entry and exit points to make the campus easier to monitor, Allen said.