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Stranger Drives First-Grader Home After Leaving School Unnoticed

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 5:41pm

A parent's worst nightmare. Janette Mendoza saw her six-year-old daughter pull up in a stranger's car, when she should have been in school.

"I saw a woman getting off (the car) with my daughter, and immediately I ran to the door and I answered it and she said, 'Is this your daughter?," said Mendoza, her voice wavering.

Her daughter, a first-grader at Thomas Manor Elementary, had walked away from school and was found at a roundabout just a quarter mile away.

"She said I found her in the roundabout and I didn't know what to do! I just brought her home because she told me my home is over here."

"I was upset, because if it wasn't for that parent, something could have happened to my daughter."

And no one at the school even noticed the girl was missing until the end of the school day, when the principal called Mendoza.

He didn't make any apologies, she said.

But Ysleta Independent School District Spokesperson Patricia Ayala did.

"First of all, we'd like to apologize profusely to the family for any distress we have caused them," she said." Y.I.S.D's number 1 priority is the safety and wellness of all its students, so we take this very seriously."

Ayala says the girl had complained she wasn't feeling well, and left her P.E. Class.
She was escorted by a teacher's aide to the nurse's office, who wasn't in.
That's when the girl left campus, she said.

But where was the teacher's aide to escort her back?

"I don't have that particular information," said Ayala. "But what we are looking at is a look at all the protocol, all the procedures, how they can go ahead and be improved, so that this does not occur again."

"I want the best education for my daughter and I don't feel that she's safe there," said Mendoza.

Especially, since she had spoken with the school's counselor that very morning about her daughter, who's asked to come home several times before.

That counselor, Mendoza said, reassured her that her daughter would be fine.

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