CORDOVA, Ala. (WIAT) — Parents of students at Cordova Elementary School are speaking out after two children left the school and went missing for over an hour Tuesday.
Kara Adams said that at 1:35 p.m. Tuesday, she received a text message from her daughter’s teacher to call the school as soon as possible. Her four-year-old daughter’s third day of kindergarten quickly had become a parent’s worst nightmare.
“I called the school immediately, and they told me that she was missing and that another kid had took her,” Adams said. “It took me like 10, maybe 15 minutes to get there, and when I got there, I said, ‘How long has she been missing?’ and one of the teachers said ‘I don’t know, at least over an hour.’”
In a statement issued by the Cordova Public Safety Wednesday morning, Police Chief Krimson Culverson said the department was notified of the girls’ disappearance at 1:07 p.m. by a school resource officer employed through the Walker County Sheriff’s Office. Both agencies immediately dispatched officers to find the girls.
According to CPD, surveillance camera footage obtained from the school showed the two girls leaving the building at approximately 12:20 p.m.
Adams said she drove to the school immediately after talking with school officials. At 1:53 p.m., the two children were safely found by a CPD officer in the 300 block of Highland Avenue, approximately 0.3 miles away from the school.
The officer pulled up to the school with the two girls in the backseat. Adams said her daughter was crying and upset when she came out of the patrol car but was back to her usual self by the end of the day.
CBS 42 is withholding the name of the 4th-grade girl who had allegedly taken Adam’s daughter off school premises.
Adams doesn’t believe the girls arrived at the location by any other means than walking, as that’s what her daughter told her.
“[My daughter] told me that [she] made her run. She kept telling her to run and [my daughter] kept telling her to take her back to the school and she said, ‘no, walk’, like keep walking,” she said. “[My daughter] said she made her run a lot and that they were sitting down, taking a break when they were found.”
Adams said she received no prior notice of her daughter being reported missing, either from Cordova Elementary or the law enforcement agencies who were searching for the two girls.
Adams also dismissed online rumors that the 4th grader was bullying her daughter. Adams said the two girls take the bus to school together but are not particularly friendly or unfriendly with one another. She also believes the other girl had no malicious intentions when she decided to take her daughter away from school grounds.
The elementary school’s Facebook page notified parents of the situation at 3:13 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. Shortly after the announcement was posted, comments were deleted and turned off after many parents voiced their concerns about the situation and the safety of the school.
Adams said she’s relieved the situation is over, but that Cordova Elementary needs to bear responsibility for the situation and ensure that certain protocols are put into place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. She said it was easy for her child to be taken out of her classroom due to lax guidelines on monitoring children.
“[The 4th-grader] told one teacher she was just going to the bathroom and she was gone for 15 minutes before they noticed that she was missing,” she said. “They didn’t even know [my daughter] was missing technically because [the 4th-grader] went to her classroom and said she was checking out. They allow older kids to go and take [other] kids out of the classroom.”
Adams said she is looking into getting her home rezoned for another school district.
“I really don’t want to send them back to the school,” she said. “I’m hoping I don’t have to.”
As of Wednesday, Cordova Elementary School officials did not respond to CBS 42’s request for comment.