Three teenagers have been found responsible in a perceived attempted abduction of a Monroe Elementary School student Oct. 3. Monroe Police Chief Nick Chambers said a teacher who witnessed the incident knew the identities of the high school students in the vehicle and reported it to officials.
Parents in the PCM Community School district were alerted to the event the next day, Oct. 4. According to the press release, the school district was informed around 4 p.m. a woman with red, bushy hair and two men wearing T-shirts with cut off sleeves in a silver car approached a student in front of the elementary school waiting for a ride to pick them up.
Chambers said he spoke with the driver who was allegedly involved and she admitted to the incident.
“She said ‘it was stupid and they were messing around,’” Chambers said.
Chambers said he sent the Jasper County Attorney's Office follow-up information about the case and the investigation is still ongoing.
In the press release, the district identified safety as a top priority for students.
“Our first priority as a school district is the safety of our students,” the press release said. “Please visit with your children about ‘Stranger Danger’ and the importance of making good choices and staying safe on their walk to an from school.”
Monroe Elementary Principal Jayme Braida said the daily dismissal procedure typically has students off of the property by 3:30 p.m., including those who ride the bus. While kids are outside making their way home, Braida said teachers and associates, along with those adults helping with the crosswalk, are on duty to supervise after-school activities.
“As a parent, unless you have a middle schooler here, the goal would be to have the kids off the property by 3:20 p.m. so the buses can come in,” Braida said. “The only kids that we really say, 'yes you can stay,' is if they are waiting on a middle schooler, and then there are still adults out there to supervise them.”
By contract, teachers are off duty at 3:40 p.m. each day. Those teachers tasked with dismissal supervision typically begin bringing students back inside at about 3:20 p.m. if they have not been picked up to find out where they should be going after school. Braida said it is also helpful for parents to inform the school if a student’s after-school pick-up is altered.
“I think, even in the office, we have a good idea of who picks up who, where kids are going, which kids are walking home,” Braida said. “If you do have a change in transportation at night, let the school know.”
Kids, whether PCM students or otherwise, are not allowed to play on the playground equipment after school, according to the school’s handbook.
“As soon as the buses roll out at 3:30 p.m., we are looking for a blank canvas,” Monroe Elementary Instruction Coach Stephanie Berg said.
The most important factor for the school is ensuring student safety before, during and after school.
“Obviously, safety is always a huge issue. That is our number one priority is keeping kids safe. That’s why we try to be as proactive as possible and vigilant,” Braida said.
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or firstname.lastname@example.org