When Kristie Cook saw her 5-year-old daughter get on the bus to start kindergarten at Walker Elementary on Aug. 12, she couldn’t have imagined it would be her daughter’s first and last day enrolled at the school.
According to Cook, her daughter essentially “slipped through the cracks” and as a result, she went unaccounted for throughout the day and was marked absent in the school’s system.
Cook said her daughter was supposed to get on a van after school that would take her to aftercare. However, the mother got a call she said she would never forget.
“Around 2:50, I get a call from my daughter’s daycare,” Cook recalled. “The first thing our aftercare lady asked me ‘Did you pick (daughter) up from school?’ I responded, ‘No, I did not.’ She said ‘Kristie, please don’t panic. We do not have her here’.”
That sentence thrust Cook into panic mode. She said the daycare worker told her the van attending saw her daughter’s name on the van list but was marked absent on her list for that day.
Cook said she immediately called the school but was told they were unsure where her daughter was because she was marked absent for the entire day.
“I told them she was there. She got on the pink bus this morning,” Cook said. “I spoke to the school about her enrollment and PowerSchool and everything was completed at 9:15 this morning.”
Cook said once her daughter got to the school, she was sent to the office. The school called her to tell her to pick up her child because the PowerSchool enrollment wasn’t complete. She said she completed the form and uploaded the documents and informed the school at 9:15 a.m.
During the registration process this summer, Cook was advised to enroll her daughter through the Livingston Parish School District’s PowerSchool portal.
She said she tried to register her daughter several times, but the website wouldn’t allow her to finish the process. Cook said she reached out to someone with the school district responsible for handling enrollment and was able to get her daughter set up with kindergarten testing. She said she was assured she would be able to complete the registration.
At the open house, before the school year started, Cook said her daughter’s name wasn’t on the list of students because her registration was not complete. However, Cook said they met with her daughter’s teacher and got her set up with the correct transportation tags.
“I verified the aftercare van that would be bringing her to her after-school care,” Cook said. “I signed the form stating we went over all the information I provided to the designated pickup and drop-off location for my daughter. When I went to the other table for PowerSchool enrollment, I was told they have everything they need in their system. I explained to the lady all of the problems and she reassured me that everything was OK for my daughter to start on Friday.”
Fast forward to Aug. 12 when Cook sees the bus stop in front of her house but her daughter doesn’t get off the bus.
“I immediately run to my side door just to see my child not there and the bus started to drive off,” she said. “My heart sank because my child was not in the driveway when the bus left.”
In what was sort of a happy ending, Cook noticed the bus drop her daughter off with a neighbor’s grandmother across the street.
“She was unaccounted for all day,” Cook said. “It goes back to the school. If aftercare wouldn’t have called me, there could’ve been a missing child on a Friday afternoon. It all goes back to Livingston Parish Schools not keeping my child safe. This was neglect, emotional trauma, and mental anguish. Her voice was not heard.”
Unfiltered with Kiran reached out to the Livingston Parish School District but has not received a response at the time the article was published.
Cook said her daughter had a successful “second” first day of Kindergarten on Aug. 18 at a private school she’s now enrolled in.