COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A 65-year-old Orangeburg County grandfather's case of mistaken identity at an elementary school led to the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office to investigate the incident.
According to an incident report, the grandfather, identified as Joseph Fuller, went to Edisto Primary School to pick up his grandson early from school on May 19.
When the grandfather arrived, the report said, he noticed a group of students leaving the gymnasium and he spotted a young man who he thought was his grandson.
The report said the grandfather approached the boy, gave him a hug, and said he was there to pick him up early. He asked the boy, who he thought was his grandson, if he was ready to go and the little boy said "yes." A teacher's assistant told deputies that she asked the student, "Was this your granddad?" and the student said "yes."
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At that point, the report said, the student and the man went to the front office so the boy could be signed out. According to the school, the grandfather was on the approved list of people who can pick up students.
The report goes on to say the grandfather put the child in his car and his wife, without turning around in the car, handed the boy a Happy Meal.
When the couple returned home, the report said, the grandmother noticed that the boy was not their grandson. The grandparents then returned the child to the school where administrators notified the child's mother.
"He had a tooth missing in the front, and I know my grandson did not have a tooth missing in the front," Fuller said. "Immediately, I brought him back to school, and I am very sorry."
"The mother was concerned, but relieved that the situation was handled and corrected," the report said. "She admitted that the [grandfather] resembles her father and saw how her son also mistakenly thought he was indeed his grandfather."
"The students had similarities in haircut style and features, but not in weight or height."
The boy's father, Darrin Pressley, blames the school for what happened.
"If they didn't bring him back my son could've been gone," Pressley said. "It's gross negligence on the school's part. My thing is, you know, have a prevention so this could never happen again."
Based on this incident, the district has revamped how a student is checked out of school. Now, students have to verbally identify the person who is picking them up and then the front desk will double check the student's pick up list for that name.
Over the summer, new entrances will be installed so parents can only gain access to the school through the front office.