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Mom's Fear As Son Goes Missing From School

By DANA SMITH

Tribune Staff Reporter

dsmith@tribunemedia.net

A MOTHER is accusing a local kindergarten of neglect. She claims that while under their care, her three-year-old son managed to leave the premises, alone and unnoticed, before being found more than an hour later in a nearby grocery store.

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NAOMIE TANELUS, 24, reunited with her three-year-old son, Terrance Bastian, after he went missing for more than an hour after wandering out of his kindergarten and into a nearby grocery store. Photo: Dana Smith/Tribune Staff

Naomie Tanelus, 24, also alleges Centreville’s See-Saw Christian Academy told her child’s father – who was scheduled to pick him up — that three-year-old Terrance was missing because his mother had already collected him.

It was last week Tuesday, she said, that the entire episode took place.

“I go to school full time so the arrangement is I take him to school in the morning and every afternoon his father picks him up,” she said. “This particular day, his father went to pick him up and when he got there he was told the child’s mother had already picked him up from school, which was a big query for him.”

Terrance’s father – Terrance Bastian Sr – tried to contact her by phone, but couldn’t get through, Ms Tanelus continued.

“By the time I got the voice-mail, a lot of time had passed, already,” she said.

It was in a panic that she called him back, she said, explaining that she had not collected Terrance.

“I froze. I had to replay what he said to myself in my mind. Like – how is that even possible? I had a lot of emotions running through me at that time. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

After explaining that she did not have Terrance, she said, Mr Bastian quickly went back to the school.

“He explained to them that nobody had the child and they had to find out what’s going on and where he is. And they’re telling him that I picked him up. They started to have attitude towards him because I guess he was making a scene – obviously because his child’s missing and no one had an answer to tell him where he is,” Ms Tanelus said.

“While they were there, discussing the situation – trying to find out what happened, some time had passed. It was after 5pm now and a student from one of the local high schools walked in the school building with my child.

“The student had no idea what was going on. He just brought him because he had on the school uniform and said this child was in Centreville Food Store for a long time just wandering around and through the aisles. He said people outside the store saw him running on the street through traffic and when he got bored he went in the food store.”

With Terrance returned, Ms Tanelus said, his “angry” father took him and left.

“I was already in a panic so I had left school and was headed there. By the time I got there, my child had already left with his dad,” Ms Tanelus said.

She told an on-duty teacher that she wanted to speak with the principal, but the principal “had no idea what took place.”

However, the principal – Mrs Zerlene Fraser – appeared apologetic and angry at the teachers for what happened and agreed to give her a $280 cheque to reimburse her school fees, Ms Tanelus said.

But although she was refunded, she said she was upset that the incident could occur.

“They didn’t have remorse or sympathise with the situation of my child being missing. And they lied and told his father that I picked him up. If he didn’t check with me, no one would have known what had happened,” she said.

“You can expect human error – like a child slips away or something. But when it happens, there should be a time frame where you notice a child is missing. The way you approach parents and tell them this is what happened – just be accountable.

“Every hour of the day when I pass that street, it’s very busy. He could of gotten hit by a car or gotten abducted from somebody. No one was paying attention. I don’t understand how it occurred.”

Based on her conversation with the staff, Ms Tanelus believes Terrance could have been missing for nearly two hours.

When reached for comment, the school’s principal, Mrs Fraser admitted the incident did “unfortunately” occur and stated: “I have to be strong and face up to it.”

Noting the school term had just started, she said: “It takes a while to get familiar with new students.”

Mrs Fraser explained that Terrance possibly slipped away while the afternoon teachers were transferring the students to the evening teachers and everyone was “settling down.”

“More than one class was moving,” she said. “I would think that was the opportunity for him to come out...At that particular time with the smaller children all coming up at the same time. He probably slipped out in the time of traffic when everybody is moving.”

As for the alleged actions of the staff, Mrs Fraser admitted: “I would have handled it better.”

She also admitted that the teachers did not immediately bring the matter to her attention when Mr Bastian arrived. She found out upon the arrival of Ms Tanelus.

“When I’m leaving is when they brought it to my attention,” she said. “But it went very well – the way I explained it to her is that it is possible that this could happen in a new school year. This was only a few days after we had opened. That does not give the person whose care (the child) was in, an excuse. But it could happen – things happen.”

She added that a child has never wandered outside of the school in the 25 years that See-Saw Academy has been open. A meeting to discuss the matter was held, she said.

“I told them (the teachers) they have to take their job description much more seriously because people entrust their children to them,” Mrs Fraser said. “We hire them and we entrust children in their care and they have to take full, more serious responsibility for their actions.”

She added that the teacher responsible has been suspended.

Comments

positiveinput 6 years, 12 months ago

As serious as this incident WAS, and notice the use of the word WAS, this parent prolong the need to mention this matter to a news media a week and days later after it happened, and after she accepted her $280.00 as the means of resolution, again why try to lower this establishments reputation. Yes for her child to had been 'missing' was very dangerous, but good thing he turned up unharm, still she was quite satisfied walking off with her cheque. I know if that was my child (which I hope never happens to) that had happen to, his/her up to college fee was secure by that daycare. Yet because you accept the cheque from the daycare, you accept resolution to your matter. Better hope that daycare doesn't come back to haunt you legally.

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jazzclio 6 years, 12 months ago

ok breathe...while I repect the opiion of positiveimput. Whether she reported it to media a day later or a month later has no bearing...what does reporting this to media in the time frame she did or any timeframe have to do with a person's moral character or parenting skills? Reporting to media was something she considered and decided to do. Period.

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positiveinput 6 years, 12 months ago

Don't you think to accept the cheque then still contact a media was wrong of her. Like you stated the time frame have nothing to do with a person's moral character or parenting skills, but when you accept money or monies worth to compensate you for your loss or mental stress then still turn around and be-little a persons (See-Saw Christian Academy) character is morally wrong. Yes the pre-school was very much at fault for what happened but by the parent accepting the cheque, that matter was made water the bridge from then on. Bahamians need to learn that you can't have your cake and eat it too.

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jazzclio 6 years, 12 months ago

If you are viewing the cheque as a tool (bribe) used by the school to keep her quiet-- then that makes the school look even worse! I just dont see anything wrong with her course of action. But you do have some good points, positiveimput.

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VS 6 years, 12 months ago

@ Positive Input, Accepting a cheque on behalf of the school does not necessarily mean the matter is resolved and all is well. The monies returned to this parent were not to silence her concerns; rather, it was an attempt by the Principal of the school to accept responsibility for the matter - the same responsibility this child's teacher should have accepted when confronted with the situation. Fact is, this type of incident should NEVER have occurred IF there were responsible adult(s) as well as secure measures set in place. We tend to take things for granted in this little Bahamaland. A child missing from the care of a responsible adult for even a brief moment in time is extremely dangerous! It is obvious, then, that this mother debated as to whether or not awareness should be brought to the public on the matter and finally relented. I'm sure she wasn't paid to tell her story, nor does she seem to have a personal vendetta against the institution. She is simply a concerned parent who ultimately chose to speak up, in good conscience, so as to ensure no other parent has to endure a similar situation. You can bet your bottom dollar that any other parent who paid a whole semester's tuition would not only take their money back, but they would also enroll their child in another school!

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positiveinput 6 years, 11 months ago

Even the article states, "But although she was refunded, she said she was still upset that the incident still could occur". In any incident no matter how dangers or serious it may have been, if an individual accepts money, no matter how little the amount may be, he/she indirectly is comfortable with the overall outcome. However after telling her story to her family and friends, they probably opened her eyes to how simple she was to accept $280. Now believe me, on reading the news article, I was extremely pissed with that daycare but fair is fair, her taking the cheque (let alone if she already cashed it) then still telling her story to the news media is wrong of her.

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242 6 years, 11 months ago

What happened in the unaccounted for hour the child was missing?

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karina 6 years ago

It is really a matter of grave concern, the police should investigate this matter. I work at a http://bullfrogsandbutterflieschildca...">Thornton CO day care facility and here we take good care of kids, no such incidents has ever occurred at our place.

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