Tacoma first-grader lost on first day of school

VIDEO: Tacoma child lost on first day of school

A 6-year-old Tacoma first-grader was lost and alone for an hour and a half on the first day of school, according to his mom.

On Monday, the little boy was supposed to be in YMCA After School Care at Grant Elementary. Instead, his mother told KIRO 7, he was put on a school bus. His mother, Valerie, who asked us not to use her last name to protect her son's identity, said the bus driver dropped him off near the school's old location. The school is being rebuilt from scratch, so this year, students are in the old Hunt Middle School. The stop where the child got off the bus was not far from where his father lives, but the boy's mom said her son has never taken the bus and wasn't supposed to on Monday. Valerie also said the boy's dad is out of town so no one was home.

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Valerie says she didn't know anything was wrong until she got a call from the YMCA at 5:40 p.m. on Monday, to tell her that her son wasn't there after school.

Around 5:30 p.m., Maureen Ezell, a retired teacher, spotted the little boy walking alone on South 9th Street near her house. She watched him and said she knew he was lost, he was too little and was walking back and forth, and she knew it was the first day of school.

Ezell spoke with the boy, tried to call his mom, but the boy couldn't remember the complete phone number. She walked with him to his dad's house, but no one was home, so she called 911.

At the same time, the boy's mom called 911 to report him missing. It took several phone calls and lots of panic before police told her they'd found her son.

They were reunited at Ezell’s house.

Valerie says the school apologized to her and so did the YMCA. She is speaking out about what happened to make sure it doesn't happen again.

KIRO 7 contacted the Tacoma School District about the incident, and received this statement:
"We'd like to extend our deepest apologies to the family for this mistake on the first day of school. Grant Elementary students are being bused across town for the first time to a temporary location while their building is under construction.  This is a new experience for our students and staff who are typically located within walking distance from students' homes. We're thankful for the Grant-area neighbors and their quick action to reunite the student and family.  We will review our processes with staff to ensure this does not happen again."

KIRO 7 also reached out to the YMCA and is waiting for a response.