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School district: 5th grader accidentally left behind on field trip

Published: May. 27, 2015 at 3:18 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 6, 2015 at 3:25 AM EDT
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SUMTER, SC (WIS) - There's growing outrage after a Midlands teacher might have made a big mistake. A spokesperson for the Sumter School District says, last Friday, a fifth grader got left behind during a field trip to Carowinds.

"He's, I'm sure, a small person in such a big world, and he probably felt that at that time,” said Sylvia Lynch, a concerned parent. "I know mistakes happen, and I know humans make mistakes, but whenever it comes to someone's child, you know, that's the most precious thing that most parents feel they have."

The Sumter School District has confirmed to WIS that hundreds of the district's 'Gifted and Talented' students took a field trip to the amusement park last week, and one of the students, a fifth grader from Kingsbury Elementary, was accidentally left at the park that's roughly two hours away.

"It does concern me, because I trust the staff to watch my child, since I work full-time,” added Rachel Reed, whose son is a first grader at Kingsbury Elementary. “I don't fault the staff. I fault, maybe, the process that was in place."

"The safety of our students is our top priority, and unfortunately district procedures were not followed,” the district told WIS in a statement. “The superintendent is taking this incident very seriously and is addressing this issue with the teacher directly."

At this point, the district wouldn't say much more, but a family spokesperson told WIS that the teacher did a head-count in the amusement park but not on the bus. She said the fifth grader got separated from the group when he was allowed to go get a drink from a nearby vending machine. WIS is told the child was by himself for more than an hour, left the park briefly, and finally reentered to find a security guard. The family spokesperson says the child was picked up by his father later that evening.

"This unfortunate incident has deeply shaken our entire family. We would like to make sure that changes to protocol are made to ensure the safety of our children and to eliminate future traumatic events for all students and families,” the family said in a statement.

The district told WIS meetings are already scheduled with the family and the teacher. However, neither the superintendent nor any of the trustees were available for further comment. WIS has also asked the district at what point they became aware the child was missing but has yet to hear back.

"Anything could have happened. He could have wandered into an area he wasn't supposed to be in and gotten hurt. He could have gotten picked up by another adult or an older child. I mean, even just wandering out of the park, he could have been hit by a vehicle or, you know, anything,”

said Lynch.

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