With many parents concerned if their children are safe in schools after the Newton, Conn., massacre, the latest incident in Philadelphia has provided another reason for parents to worry. Though the nation is concerned with gun violence finding its way into public schools, one mother’s nightmare occurred not because of gun violence but something even worse.
Five-year-old Nailla Robinson was taken from her school in Philadelphia on Monday and was luckily found safe on Tuesday morning in a park. Despite being found and expected to be okay, the issue remains on how Nailla was allowed to leave her school with a total stranger and if something like this could happen again in another school.
Vice President Joe Biden is working with a task force to help come up with ways to curb gun violence throughout the U.S. In New York, lawmakers are poised to pass tougher laws on gun control since the shootings in Newton, Conn.
Despite the safety of our nation’s schools focus being on keeping gun violence out of the classroom, an occurrence at a Philadelphia school demonstrated another reason for parents to be concerned about their children’s safety.
Five-year-old Nailla Robinson was signed out of her school early on Monday by a woman saying she was her mother and that she was taking her out for breakfast. The woman also said she had previously gone to the office and signed her out.
To everyone’s horror, school officials learned that the woman had lied about being Nailla’s mother when her daycare provider arrived to pick her up at 3 p.m. The child’s mother, Latifah Rashid, had dropped her off at school at 8:45 a.m.
Rashid told WPVI news that five minutes later, a woman posing as her showed up to the school and signer out Nailla. “[The suspect] told her teacher that she was me, her mother, and that she was taking her out to breakfast and Nailla was already signed out at the office and she took my child and left.”
Lt. John Walker told the Philadelphia Daily News that the woman told people her name was “Tiffany” and the signature in the school visitor log was illegible. Officials in the school district said that it was a “serious break in procedure” to allow the girl to leave the school with an unknown adult.
District spokesman Fernando Gallard said the woman did not follow district policy which is to wait at the school’s front office. Instead, she went directly to the classroom and told the teacher that she had already “checked out” Nailla from school.
The suspect is still at large with no way of being able to identify her physically. The woman was dressed in a full-length black garment with her face covered by a black veil. Nailla’s mother wears Muslim-style clothing so no one suspected anything.
Luckily for everyone involved, Nailla was discovered the next day at a park in Philadelphia around 4:40 a.m. She was discovered by a man who heard cries for help and found her under the playground jungle gym wearing only a T-shirt. She was immediately taken to a children’s hospital to be examined and eventually be reunited with her mother.
Now that Nailla has been reunited with her mother, the concern focuses on the breakdown in security procedures that allowed the child to be taken in the first place.
Though the circumstances leading up to Nailla’s abduction are unusual, parents and schools need to collaborate to make sure something like this does not happen again. This also brings up the question of “how safe are our children today in our public schools?”
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