School finds missing kindergartner safe in classroom

2013-08-14T11:10:00Z 2013-08-14T21:29:22Z School finds missing kindergartner safe in classroomBy ERIN ANDERSEN / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

For the staff at Humann Elementary School, the second day of school is definitely the most memorable so far.

A 5-year-old kindergartner disappeared between breakfast and the first bell, triggering a neighborhoodwide police search. But all the while, the boy was sitting in a classroom.

It was the wrong classroom, and he was responding to the wrong name, but he was in a classroom.

The boy’s teacher reported him missing just after 9 a.m.

He had arrived at school early for breakfast, but then apparently didn’t remember where he was supposed to go, so he got in line with a first-grade class, said Mary Kay Roth, spokeswoman for Lincoln Public Schools.

The first-grade teacher, who had a potential student named Michael she had not yet met, saw the new face and said something to the effect of, "Oh, are you Michael?"

“He nodded his head. The teacher told him to get in the line and they went to the classroom,” said Humann Principal Randy Oltman. “Then they went to the coat room and he hung up his backpack in the area that said Michael.

"They went into the classroom. The teacher did the lunch count. She gave him an assignment and he wrote the name Michael on the top of the page.

“Everything lined up,” Oltman said.

The 5-year-old is shy and quiet, Roth said, and his dad’s name is Michael.

Meanwhile, the kindergarten teacher notified the office that the boy was absent and the school called his mom, who said she had dropped him off for breakfast. Staff retraced his steps from the lunchroom to the gym where students line up with their teachers.

Oltman got on the intercom, and asked the boy to come to the office. Staff started searching. Locked down the school. Called police.

“We did multiple sweeps outside and inside before and when the police got here,” Oltman said.

Meanwhile, the child’s mother arrived.

“She was extremely calm," the principal said. "She was adamant that he would not have left the building.”

Police searched the building, the playground and the neighborhood around the school near 40th Street and Old Cheney Road.

And then, at about 9:45, Oltman put the boy's mom on the intercom.

“She said, 'You need to come see Mommy in the office.'"

The new boy in the first-grade classroom stood up and said, "'I need to go see Mommy.'"

The teacher immediately realized he was not her new student, who, it turns out, is attending another school.

“As I look back on it, I don’t know that we could have prevented it,” Oltman said. “He’s a 5-year-old kindergartner. He had a different teacher than yesterday. And he responded to everything.

“I feel really good about the procedures. I feel bad that the parents had to be worried. But the child was never worried. He was never scared. He just thinks it was a normal start to the second day of school.”

Reach Erin Andersen at 402-473-7217 or eandersen@journalstar.com. 

 

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