5-year-old Permitted to Walk Home from School, District Admits E - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

5-year-old Permitted to Walk Home from School, District Admits Error in Dismissal Process

By Alicia Neaves

NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Parents of a 5-year-old who attends Ross Elementary are speaking out. Their kindergartner was allowed to walk home when he was supposed to be picked up.

When Jacob's mother arrived to pick him up from school, he was nowhere to be found. Turns out, a stranger spotted him walking on the corner of 52nd and Dixie. She took him to the nearby 711, then called police.

"There are so many thoughts running through my head of what could have happened to him. It was scary. It was very scary," Jacob's mother, Kimberly Hopkins, said.

Kimberly is thankful Jacob is safe after he was found walking on a busy Odessa intersection by himself.

"In this case, he insisted to the substitute teacher that he was supposed to walk home. If there is a question what really should have happened, one, we hope there were clear instructions on which student is supposed to go to which area. I don't think there was yesterday," Director of Communications for ECISD, Mike Adkins, said.

"I said [to the substitute], 'You allowed a kindergartner to walk home by himself?' and she said, 'He just sounded so convincing,'" Hopkins said.

Students who ride the bus, walk home or get picked up all go to a specific area of the school before they are released to leave.

The district says, Wednesday, there was a mistake in the dismissal process.

"We have procedures in place. Sometimes mistakes do happen and we don't want them to. So we'll work very hard to fix it and try to make sure that this doesn't happen again," Adkins said.

Jacob's dad knows not every child found walking alone is this lucky to be saved by a good Samaritan.

"That's my son, and she went out of her way to take him into the air-conditioned gas station, buy him a coke and chips. Not very many people stranger-wise, I think, would do that," Jacob's father, Christopher Townsend, said.

Kimberly and Christopher are reaching out hoping something can be done so this doesn't happen to another child, and to say thank you to the woman who watched over their son.

"From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I don't know what I would have done if I lost my son. I appreciate it. If you're out there, I owe you one big hug," Townsend said.

After the woman called police to the 711, Jacob was reunited with his mother a short time later.

Jacob's parents say they withdrew him from Ross Elementary. They might enroll him in another school.

They are also seeking legal consultation.

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