(USA TODAY) A Connecticut mother is demanding changes to school dismissal policies after her 5-year-old son was picked up by an elderly man who believed the boy was his great-grandson.
The boy was at Sterling Community School on Feb. 21 waiting in line for the bus when the man approached him and said his mother wanted the boy to be picked up from school, said Angela Stone, the boy's mother. Stone spoke during an emergency Board of Education meeting Tuesday, according to video posted by the Norwich Bulletin.
The man, who has not been identified, then drove to his home with the boy.
"This man believed it was his great-grandson. Apparently, they have the same hat and the same coat color," Stone said.
When the man arrived at home, his wife realized the boy was not their great-grandson. The man then called the school and was told to bring the boy back.
"My husband and I believe at this point, the police needed to be notified," Stone said.
Stone realized something had gone wrong when her two older children arrived home on the bus without their young brother. She called the school, and the principal told her that her son was on the way to the school.
Once the boy arrived at the school, he was put on an empty bus and sent home, she said. When he returned home, Stone said his son was "in a shocked state."
School staff and parents have previously complained to the administration about dismissal policies, according to Stone.
"We had all expressed that dismissal time was a disaster waiting to happen, and this past Friday, that disaster became my family's reality," Stone said during the meeting.
She added: "This unbelievable and terrifying incident that our family has been put through has placed a spotlight on our school's lack of security, especially during parent pickup and bus dismissal time."
Sterling Superintendent Rena Klebart said this is the first time the district has experienced a mix-up during pick-up, NBC Connecticut reports. Klebart did acknowledge school personnel made mistakes in this incident, the Associated Press reports, saying they should have immediately notified police.
The great-grandfather did have permission to pick up his great-grandson from the school. He had shown his identification and signed out the correct student, but a staff member was supposed to watch the man pick up the boy, NBC reports.
Klebart told NBC the school has increased the number of staff members on-duty during dismissal.
USA TODAY Network has requested an interview with Klebart.