New Castle News

New Castle

September 18, 2012

Our Opinion: Child who wanders away from school shows need for improved efforts

NEW CASTLE — We’re pleased that West Side Elementary School intends to tighten its rules after one of its students recently went missing.

Some confusion, and probably a little carelessness, resulted in the 6-year-old wandering away from the New Castle school. Reports indicate she was instructed to go outside to meet her mother and return to the building if the parent hadn’t yet arrived.

Instead, the girl walked away from the school, and when her mother arrived to find her missing, a search commenced. Fortunately she was found, nearly a half-hour later, unharmed.

But that didn’t pacify the mother, who complained to the New Castle News about the incident and the school’s handling of her special needs daughter. The mother said she did not want her daughter returning to West Side School and was looking at alternatives.

In discussing the incident with The News, West Side principal Carmen Nocera acknowledged “some issues” on the day of the incident, but indicated the fact the mother was late in picking up the child contributed to the situation.

That may be a valid argument, but had something bad happened to this child, such a defense wouldn’t help the school district from a legal standpoint. It had custodial responsibility for the child until the parent arrived.

Having a child wander away from a school happens on occasion. These facilities, after all, are not prisons. And if a child is inclined to slip away, educators can be caught off guard.

But there is reason for vigilance, particularly at the West Side School, located as it is along a very busy West Washington Street. Even without the concern of a potential abduction of an unattended youngster, the combination of elementary-age children and traffic creates a hazard.

But with a school where some youngsters indeed walk to nearby homes, having one leave unexpectedly is quite conceivable. What troubled us most about this particular incident, however, was the fact New Castle police never were called.

In the case of a missing child, school officials should have contacted the police department within minutes, as soon as it was clear the child was not where she should have been. Instead, the youngster was found by a school secretary driving around the neighborhood and police said they knew nothing about the situation.

While the mother of the child was understandably upset by this incident, we think the best response is to have school officials and parents come to a better understanding of what’s needed to protect children and to work to improve communications in order to prevent future problems.

Trying to have the youngster transferred to another school isn’t the answer.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
New Castle
  • Taggart.jpg Arsonists damage New Castle’s football field

    With the New Castle football team just days away from the start of practice, vandals have hit Taggart Stadium. Someone set fire to artificial turf at the stadium and damaged a blocking sled the team uses in practice.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg New Castle hires information technology director

    The New Castle school district has a new information technology director. At its meeting this week the board hired Emily Sanders of Cranberry Township to fill the position, left vacant by the retirement of Beth Barber.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NC_Hoops.jpg Former Lady 'Canes stars reunite for tour of Europe

    Ryenn Micaletti and Abby Allen are headed to Europe. Micaletti and Allen — both members of the 2007 WPIAL Class AAAA girls basketball championship team — have joined forces with News Release Basketball to spend nearly three weeks in Germany and Belgium later this summer playing basketball and helping run clinics.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • High school registration scheduled at New Castle

    Registration has been set for new students in grades seven through 12 moving into the New Castle school district.

    July 15, 2014

  • Police.jpg Couple accused of contacting rape victim

    A man accused of raping a woman at gunpoint allegedly tried to get her to drop the charges.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • festival1.jpg Break out the bubbly

    New Castle may be the Fireworks Capital of America, but Friday night bubbles filled the air.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • wampum1.jpg State title ties: Wampum, New Castle teams celebrate incredible success

    Their spectaular success stories are separated by more than a half century. But they sat side-by-side Thursday morning, sharing more than just breakfast at Jata’s Diner, a familiar meeting spot for former Wampum High School players. 

    July 5, 2014 4 Photos

  • Hooker.tiff Male Athlete of the Year: New Castle's Malik Hooker

    Once in a while, an athlete comes along who redefines the very word. Then, there’s Malik Hooker. The New Castle High graduate took athleticism to a level rarely seen before in the area on the basketball court and on the football turf.

    July 4, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • school.jpg New Castle board adopts budget despite uncertainty

    The New Castle school board adopted its 2014-15 budget Monday but may have to re-open it next week. The $5.4 million budget, introduced in May, has no tax increase and will not tap into the fund balance. Taxes remain at 17.72 mills.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg District to sell closed schools, contents

    The New Castle school district will advertise for proposals to buy its three just-closed elementary schools.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Poll

Would you want to know what your pet is thinking about you?

Yes! I'd love to know what my pet is thinking.
Nah, it's probably not that interesting.
I don't know. I'm afraid of what I might find out.
     View Results