GLOVERSVILLE — A case of mistaken identity in the Gloversville Enlarged School District lead to a police report of an attempted abduction, according to the district.
In a letter posted on the district’s website, Kingsborough Principal Kimberly Ross explained the confusion was the result of mistaken identity involving two young students with the same name.
“The incident was clearly the result of human error. When the mistake was brought to our attention, we acted immediately to correct it,” Ross said. “The student had not left school grounds, and I can assure parents that at no time was any child in danger. We understand that this incident was deeply upsetting to all involved, especially for the parents and students, and for that we sincerely apologize.”
Brenda Salinas said on Tuesday her kindergardener was brought to the nurse’s office at Kingsborough Elementary and a call was made to have someone pick her up. She said the family of different girl with the same first name was contacted to come and pick her child up. She said the family of the other child sent a relative to pick the child up, who didn’t realize it wasn’t the right child and tried to take her with him.
“I got a phone call when I was literally right down the road saying that my daughter was with some stranger and he was taking her,” Salinas said.
Salinas said she pulled up to the school about five minutes later at around 2:20 p.m. for her daughter’s regular dismissal and found her friend speaking with the man who had her daughter with him. She said her daughter was crying and was upset.
Salinas said at the start of the year, she was told to write her child’s full name inside their backpack as well as on other items such as notebooks and folders. She alleges that the school nurse just took her first name and called the wrong parent.
“If they had checked her backpack like they said they did, they would have seen her name, her grade and her teacher’s name, because I made sure I labeled everything with her name, her grade and her teacher’s name,” Salinas said.
District Interim Superintendent Robert DeLilli said the two children had the similar name and were of similar age and size.
“Going forward we are taking measures to make sure ID’s are reviewed and first and last names will be reviewed. We will make sure this doesn’t happen again,” DeLilli said.
DeLilli said in the pick-up procedure, parents are asked to fill out an emergency card with release information on it, which can list people such as family, friends and neighbors who may be in a position to pick up their child.
He said what typically happens in a pickup situation is they start at the top of the list with the parent’s child or guardian and go down the list from there until they can get in touch of someone on the list who can pick up the child. He said normally, the parent will contact someone to get the child if they cannot.
Salinas said she spoke with Gloversville Police about the incident, but said no report was given to her. She said police told her there was no criminal activity involved in this case and that it was a misunderstanding.
“That is not a misunderstanding. You don’t just go in and just take a kid that is not yours,” Salinas said.
According to the district, Gloversville Police investigated the incident and determined no criminal activity had occurred. DeLilli said there was no ill intent in this situation.
“There is absolutely no ill intent and no criminal act at all,” DeLilli said.
DeLilli said this matter was simply a misunderstanding.
“There was no harm. No one was hurt. No one was in danger, that is the end of it,” DeLilli said. “We will take steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again. No one was harmed in anyway, and that is most important.”
Salinas said she wants to see stricter rules enforced and wants the school punished for the lack of safety protocols being checked in her daughter’s situation. She said she is considering taking legal action in this matter.
Salinas said she is really disappointed in the district that this happened.
“Where she is supposed to feel safe, she was not safe,” she said. “I am not going to let this go.”
School and district officials are reviewing protocols and are taking steps to prevent a similar incident from happening again. DeLilli said the district is currently reviewing procedures with administration and staff.
“That has been addressed, and we will continue to remind and review the proper procedures and protocol to ensure this kind of ‘mix up’ doesn’t occur again,” he said.
DeLilli said thousands of kids are dismissed everyday in Gloversville and there hasn’t been any issue of a student being harmed, hurt or abducted “and I don’t anticipate they ever will be.”
“We are stewards of their children and safety is important. And we will continue to strive and make improvements to the system that we have,” he said.
A letter was sent home to parents about the issue.