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CHAMBERSBURG — A Stevens Elementary School student was sent home Wednesday with the wrong person, prompting local district officials to tighten pick up policies when children need to leave school early.

The Chambersburg Area School District announced the mistake today on its website, along with changes the district is making to ensure the mistake doesn’t happen again.

The school district called the incident a case of mistaken identity but didn’t explain how it happened.

“The student was immediately returned to the school once the individual picking up the child realized the mistake,” the district said in a news release.

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The district’s normal procedure when a child has to be picked up early because of an illness or appointment is for the person picking up the child to sign in and identify themselves and the student they are to pick up.

They are supposed to be on an approved list of individuals provided by parents or guardians at the beginning of the school year, but at times can be released to others with verbal consent from parents.

When this reporter has picked up grandchildren at Grandview Elementary School in the past, school employees have asked for photo identification, although I am on the children’s approved list provided list as per school policy.

Although the district didn’t provide details or elaborate on the reasons why the individual was at the school to pick up the child, the implication was that the case of “mistaken identity” involved two students who were waiting to be picked up, and at least one of those children was released to the wrong person.

“CASD superintendents and staff have met with both families and expressed their sincere apologies for the situation,” the district said in its news release.

The school district’s administration has already made changes to the student release process to ensure that the situation is never repeated, according to the news release.

Those changes affect students being picked up during the school day by individuals who are not their parent/guardian or are not on the approved pick up list for that child.

They include:

  • All students released during school hours must provide a hard-copy permission slip signed by the parent/guardian of the child.
  • The individual picking up the child must produce photo identification which will be copied by office staff.
  • Before any student is released, a verification call will be made to the parent/guardian to confirm the individual’s identity.

The new rules go into effect immediately.

Parents/guardians are encouraged to add trusted family members and individuals to their child’s approved pick up list for emergency situations. This list can have as many individuals on it as the parent/guardian desires.

District officials said administration and staff will continue to refine pick-up procedures over the summer to ensure that students are being kept as safe and secure as possible.

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