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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Girl wanders away from Sheridan Elementary School Thursday, prompting security changes on campus

A 5-year-old girl apparently wandered away from Sheridan Elementary School on Thursday afternoon and took a bus to Spokane Valley, prompting school officials to consider overhauling security guidelines.

At about 1:14 p.m. Thursday, the girl made her way out of the school and to the bus stop at 5th Avenue and Freya Street near the Wake Up Call coffeehouse, said Kevin Morrison, director of communications at Spokane Public Schools.

Morrison wouldn’t specify how she was able to leave without anyone noticing, though he said it’s likely she was on a bathroom break and away from her classroom. Citing confidentiality reasons, Spokane Public Schools wouldn’t release the girl’s name or grade level.

According to Morrison, the 5-year-old was spotted by a few people who then notified Spokane Public Schools at about 1:29 p.m.

When the child got onto the bus, she apparently told the driver she had a map and that she was going to get a drink for her grandmother.

Morrison said the driver contacted Spokane Transit Authority dispatch, which notified Spokane police. The child was picked up in Spokane Valley at about 2 p.m.

Following the child’s brief excursion from school, Larry Quiasano, principal of Sheridan Elemntary School, and Brian Melody, an administrator at Spokane Public Schools, talked with the mother. Morrison said she “wasn’t angry.”

“She was so reasonable,” he said. “We had met with her right away to help with specific issues. With this particular student, we do have strategies to make sure she is looked after.”

The school plans to implement new procedures that would limit a child’s ability to wander away from school, including putting up cameras, implementing a buddy system on bathroom breaks and increasing awareness among staff.