by: Carl Willis Updated:
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A Gwinnett County father says his 7-year-old daughter made it to school but never made it to her after-school program on Tuesday
For hours, Sean Harris said had no idea who had her until his phone rang and her voice was on the other end.
"Pure anxiety and I was in disbelief that this could possibly happen," Harris told Channel 2’s Carl Willis.
Turns out that the Division of Family and Children Services took the girl out of class at Rosebud Elementary School and drove her to the Rockdale County DFCS office. But, they had the wrong child.
"It was two girls in the same school with the same last names, same first names but the spelling was different," Harris said.
Their birthdays were also different.
Harris said the process failed him and his daughter, who said she is scared to go back to school.
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"I could tell she was terrified. She was very quiet," Harris said.
Harris mainly blames DFCS for the mix-up but they said they followed their protocols by providing the legal documents to school staff
The department sent Willis a statement Wednesday saying.
“The Division of Family and Children Services' number one priority is the safety of children in the state of Georgia. As such, the Division has established policies and procedures that seek to protect children from harm and support their overall well-being.
“When Division staff are required to transport children in foster care from school to another location, procedure dictates that Division staff provide school personnel with legal documents that identify the child by name and date of birth and assure school personnel of the staff member's right to pick the child up from school.
“We are concerned that, even when this procedure is followed, a school could release the wrong child to staff in our Division. As a result, we will review our policies and procedures to determine if further safeguards are necessary to ensure school personnel are releasing the correct child to our staff.”
The department said they rely on the schools to ensure they have the right child.
"That's totally not an excuse at all," Harris told Willis.
The Gwinnett County School District also sent Willis a statement saying:
“This is a very serious situation and this family's concerns are understandable. In addition to investigating this incident, the school system is reviewing its processes for releasing students to DFACS, making sure these processes are being followed, and will be working with this agency to ensure this does not happen again.”
"It’s very disturbing. Particularly what's going on with sex trafficking and her being a little girl and you not knowing where she is," Harris said.
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