Child wanders off at SKSD lunch program

South Kitsap School District officials will change their communication procedures after a 5-year-old girl wandered off and could not immediately be found after Monday’s Summer Lunch Program at East Port Orchard Elementary School.

Kathy Sims said her granddaughter could not be located when she arrived to pick her up just before the program ended at 1 p.m. Monday at EPO. After searching the gymnasium and surrounding area, Sims said a parent found her granddaughter about 20 minutes later near SKSD’s bus barn, which is across from EPO, near Hoover Avenue.

“She’s too young to be walking out there by herself,” she said.

Sims said the girl’s mother was at EPO’s “Calling All Kindergarteners” program and dropped her off at the Summer Lunch Program. Jonell Ude, executive assistant for instructional services, said that can create confusion for parents at the kindergarten program, where youths are supervised by teachers. Sims said she later was told that an adult should stay with youths during that program.

“If that is the case, we definitely would have,” said Sims, adding that the district did not communicate that well.

Ude said that is a valid criticism. After the incident, she said the district did a “message blast” to all kindergarten parents to inform them that students should have parental supervision at the Summer Lunch Program. She said SKSD officials also posted signs around EPO to remind parents of that. Ude said EPO only has one person paid by the district to supervise the Summer Lunch Program. The lunch component is federally funded, while the programs are produced by volunteers.

“Keeping track of kids can be a real challenge,” she said. “We have to button-down the hatches a little bit.”


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