TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Concerned parents are questioning their children’s safety, Wednesday, after their first-graders managed to walk all the way home during school recess.
"Somebody could've taken those kids, and we would've never seen them again," said Paul Kenner, whose wife found the three children.
Arcadia Elementary is about half a mile from the Kenners’ Taylorsville home.
"We actually called the school, telling them we had them in our care," explained Christina Hakala, another disgruntled parent.
The walk home took about ten minutes. The seven year-olds used 3600 West and crossed over a canal to get there.
"They could've drowned in the canal—They could've wanted to go swimming," said Hakala.
Granite School District officials say the principal followed protocol as soon as she heard what had happened.
"That information was relayed to the district office and an All-call was done," said Ben Horsley, Spokesman for Granite School District.
All-calls typically entail checking bathrooms, offices, computer labs, and other key rooms in the school. Teachers also do a head-count to figure out who has left. In this particular case, the school did not have the missing kids’ names by the time the first parent called in.
"The principal asked her on the phone about four times, ‘What are the names? I want the names…’" said Hakala.
"There was probably a slight delay there because there wasn't a radio on-hand for that particular aide," said Horsley.
Horsley also says there comes a point when students should take responsibility and follow the rules.
“Certainly, if they're going to sneak around, there are going to be opportunities to do so. We can't prevent every single one of these circumstances," explained Horsley.
That may be because Utah schools just do not have the resources to do so.
"If you look at our administrative costs, we're the lowest in the nation. In Granite, in particular, we're $39 per student. The national average is over $200,” said Horsley.
Parents say one way or another, they need to see some change.
"We need to work together to correct this so it doesn't happen again," said Hakala.Ever since the incident, school officials have invested in more radios. They say the school recess aides will use them more effectively in the future.