Allie Spillyards

5-Year-Old Walks Out of Dallas Elementary School Completely Unnoticed

Dallas ISD says there was a "breakdown in protocol" at Highland Meadows Elementary last Thursday after a kindergarten student left a classroom, walked out of the building and home unnoticed in the middle of the day.

Jenniffer Castenada says she got a call from her father that 5-year-old Alessia had shown up crying at their front door.

"He said, 'Did the school contact you?' And I'm like, 'No. I haven't gotten a call'," said Castaneda.

She says within 15 minutes she was back home. And five minutes after that, she had her daughter back at school.

Though Alessia's teacher said they had looked for, Castaneda was concerned no one had informed her they'd lost track of her daughter.

"They're still little. They still need help from a grownup or someone watching them, you know," said Castaneda.

Alessia told her mother and principal that she'd had an accident after her teacher didn't notice she'd raised her hand to ask permission to use the restroom.

She says she didn't know where to go for help, so she made a beeline for home following the path her parents walked with her each morning and afternoon.

"She said when she was crossing the street, there was a car passing by and he let her go through. And that's when she started running. She said she was just thinking out loud, 'Mommy. Mommy,' you know," said Castaneda.

Though it's only a two-block walk, Castaneda says she can't help but imagine that this story could have had a very different ending.

"Anything could've happened to her in those minutes," said Castaneda.

Now she's hoping the school and district will do whatever it takes to make sure this can't happen again.

DISD released a statement Thursday saying, "The Dallas Independent School District is committed to always providing safe care for every student we serve, and it is never acceptable for a student to be unattended while they are with us. We apologize for the breakdown in our protocol and will use this opportunity to assess and further review our procedures to ensure this incident does not recur."

A district spokesperson went on to say that the staff at Highland Meadows went through safety training Monday to review current protocols and establish new ones.

Contact Us