COMMENTARY | The story of the Massachusetts father who broke his 3-year-old daughter out of her day care center after staff had left is alarming on many levels. According to the Associated Press, Keith Paquette says when he got to Westport Country Day School shortly after 5 p.m., no one was there. He says he was forced to smash a window to release his daughter Samantha Jo because the building was locked.
I feel for Paquette. It's understandable why he would break the window. Who knows how long it would take to round up someone with keys to the building? I also empathize as a former day care supervisor. I worked the night shift and there were many times when parents came late. I had to stay with them, sometimes well past midnight.
At that age, children frighten easily. It must have been terrifying for the girl to find herself alone. It was traumatic enough for my daycare students when we lost power outage one night. I wasn't able to call for help and those kids clung to me. It took some doing to keep everyone calm and assure them they were safe.
According to the AP, police were called after school officials told them they'd checked the building before leaving. Officials also said the child's name had been checked off the sign-out list signaling Samantha Jo been picked up.
I can't imagine the building check could have been very thorough to have overlooked a child. In preschool classrooms, staffers should personally connect with or supervise each student pick-up. Staff should not rely on a sign-out form to verify a child was collected. Staff at the school dropped the ball on this one.