MESA, AZ — Brieanna Dickson was sent into a near panic, Thursday, when she arrived at Emerson Elementary in Mesa to pick up her son, Arriyon, from his first day at kindergarten, and he was not in the pick-up area where he was supposed to be.
"I got there, and I didn't see him outside with the rest of the kids. I got out of the vehicle and asked where my son was, and nobody knew. I had to ask about four or five different times until finally a teacher came up to me and asked who I was looking for. I gave her my son's name," Dickson said.
After a quick search near the middle school gate teachers had no answers. "She came back and said well 'nobody's over there, we don't know where he is," Dickson said.
"I proceed to go to the office and ask them where is my son? Everybody's on the radio looking, asking, they eventually locked the gates to the school so that everybody could look inside the school, into the different classrooms, the bathrooms as well, still he was nowhere to be found," Dickson said.
Dickson says Mesa police were called to search as she learned her son was signed out to a new substitute teacher who apparently didn't know the proper procedure.
"It was a very traumatic thing to go show up to your child's first day of school, first day of kindergarten, and they're nowhere to be found. Nobody knows anything and then when I did catch up to the teacher, I heard her talking to the other teachers who were going over the procedure for the students and all she said was 'oh?' I asked her, 'What do you mean oh?', 'Where's my son? 'Yeah, we can't find him, and her attitude was a bit too smug, almost like she thought it was funny or something'" Dickson recalled.
Finally, about a half hour later, Dickson's son was found by police near 6th Street and Cherry, about a quarter of a mile from the elementary school.
Mesa police picked her son up and returned him safely to her back at the school.
Dickson pressed school officials to find out what happened.
"They just opened the gate and that's pretty much it, you know, and the teacher actually told a couple of the students.. walk," she said.
"My son, we got him in the car finally and he said, 'The teacher told me to walk.' So, I walked in the principal's office and said 'What are you guys going to do about this. Why is she telling a kindergartner, a five-year-old to walk. He doesn't walk home, and this isn't the safest area to send little children walking anywhere," Dickson said.
Mesa Public Schools released the following statement, Friday:
Mesa Public Schools is grateful the student was safely reunited with his family with the help of Mesa Police. The school has been in contact with the parent about the incident and will begin enhanced dismissal procedures today for its youngest learners. Student safety is our top priority and the district looks for every opportunity to improve.
Dickson was given more details about the new dismissal procedure.
"So, I guess now they're switching things up to have kindergartners get out 10 minutes early and will now be waiting in the cafeteria to be picked up by parents. I just want to make sure everybody is aware and that the school needs other safety measures in place to make sure this doesn't happen. That many teachers outside with that many kids, and none of those kids should've escaped and ended up lost," she said.
Dickson says her son will be ok. He was happy for a while the following morning, but his mood changed when he got to school.
"When I dropped him off in class you know he started crying, and I asked him what's wrong and he just looked like he was terrified and did not want to be left there," Dickson said.