A Washington, D.C. woman is demanding a school district take accountability for its failures when a parent’s worst nightmare became her reality.
via: DC News Now
A mother in Southeast D.C. said her two children were kidnapped from a DC public school after staff failed to properly check the identification of a woman who claimed to be a parent to the kids.
“My children were basically given away that day, and the situation was swept under the rug,” said Capria Phillips.
Phillips said she received a call at work on March 7 from Turner Elementary School, where her two boys, 5-year-old Harlem and 4-year-old Santana, used to attend school. The school asked if she knew someone named Jessica. Phillips did not and immediately rushed over to the school.
That’s where she later found out the kids were released to the woman, ‘Jessica.’
“Those few hours, everything was going through my head. I didn’t know if I’d see my boys again, I didn’t know if they’d come back harmed or not,” said Phillips.
According to a court affidavit, a woman who had no relations to the children but had previously been involved with the children’s father showed up at the school.
The affidavit reads in part, the woman “used a fictitious name of ‘Jessica Smart’ and stated she was the mother of (the children). The school failed to check ID and confirm that (she) was the children’s legal guardian.”
Documents also said the woman left with the kids under “false pretense,” and later used the kids as leverage to contact their father.
The affidavit said when the father arrived at the school to pick up Harlem and Santana that day, he was informed the children were already picked up. The woman, ‘Jessica,’ then called the father to tell him she had his kids and “would give them back… if she could see the son she shares with him.” That child was not involved in this case.
Police were able to make contact with the woman and safely retrieve the kids. She was charged with two counts of kidnapping.
Phillips has since pulled her kids from Turner Elementary.
“Tradition is broken, trust is broken, my heart is broken,” said Phillips. “(The boys) want to come back to this school every day and I said no. Because if someone was that careless like that, I don’t give you a second chance.”
The mother of two said the entire experience has been traumatic, not only for her but for the boys.
“They still do not understand. I have hard questions that I cannot answer,” she said. “I have post-trauma that I’m going through, anxiety. You don’t know the effects this will have on you as a mother, that works every day. To not know that you might not see your children when you get off of work at five.”
Phillips is now demanding accountability and answers from the school district.
“More due diligence, more caring, more love. If you love your students enough, you will love to know who you are giving them back away to,” she said. “It’s our job to give them to you, it’s their job to make sure they’re giving them back to the right people.”
In a statement, the District said, “DC Public Schools takes any incidents or allegations regarding student safety and well-being very seriously. The Turner Elementary School administration worked closely with DCPS Police and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to promptly address this matter on March 7.”