Pinging cell phone helps find missing Moreau Heights student

Jefferson City Public School District officials are reviewing some procedures after a teacher’s instruction to one student, Monday morning, confused him and eventually led to a search for a that student.

District Spokesman David Luther said a fourth-grade student at Moreau Heights Elementary went to his classroom in the morning, as he should have.

But, approximately 20 minutes into class, the teacher told him to go to another classroom.

When he left the classroom, for some reason, the student misunderstood where he needed to go and he got into a line with children who were going to the gifted program at Southwest Early Childhood Center, 812 St. Mary’s Blvd.

“Monday was the first day of classes at the early childhood center,” Luther said. “He didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to be going there. He thinks he’s where he’s supposed to be.”

Luther said the student went to a classroom at Southwest and since it’s the first day rosters don’t have all the names of the kids who are supposed to be there because there are still registrations taking place.

“The teacher didn’t know that this child wasn’t supposed to be there,” he said.

When Moreau Heights officials found the child was not where he should be, between 8:30 and 9 a.m., they began searching the building and grounds.

“When they couldn’t find the student they called his mother and then police,” Luther said. “As police started their search, they ping the student’s cell phone and it keeps showing up that he’s in the area of the Southwest Center.”

Police called the principal at Southwest and searched the grounds, but didn’t find the student.

After starting a classroom search, they eventually located him around 11:30 a.m.

“He had been in class the entire time,” Luther said. “Police took him back to Moreau Heights and reunited him with his mother.”

Because of Monday’s situation, Luther said there are at least two things the district will do.

“We’re sending a letter to families at Moreau Heights to let them know what happened,” he said. “The principal at Moreau Heights also will be talking with staff and going through what happened.

“Knowing they did things correctly, it was just that information in the database wasn’t complete, (and) we’ll look to see what we did right and wrong to avoid another situation like this.”

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