Official: protocol was breached, discipline possible

When a woman calling herself “Tiffany” took a 5-year-old girl from a West Philadelphia School, protocol failed several times, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The unidentified woman, who was dressed in a black burqua, did enter Bryant Elementary school through the main doors and sign in with an aide stationed at a desk just inside the entrance, said Fernando Gallard, Philadelphia School District spokesman.

But visitors must then proceed to the main office, and instead, the woman asked for directions to the kindergarten classroom of Nailla Robinson, and went directly to the little girl’s room.

The woman approached the girl’s substitute teacher and said she was there to take Nailla.  The teacher released Nailla to the woman.

That’s another breach, Gallard said.

“At no time should a child be released in a classroom,” he said.  

Instead, a parent or authorized person is supposed to request a child be released in the main office, and present government-issued identification proving their identity.  School staff must then check the child’s file to see if the person asking for the child is permitted to pick them up.

If an authorized person is asking to pick the child up, a staffer would call up to the classroom and have the child escorted to the office.  The child would then be released in front of an administrator.

“You want to see the interaction between the child and the adult,” Gallard said.

And if a visitor is able to get past a check-in desk and access a classroom directly, "the teacher is supposed to say, 'No, you must go into the main office,'" he said.

Gallard said that since the investigation is still ongoing, no decisions have been made about possible consequences for employees who may have failed to follow district procedures.

“We will let the facts lead us to whatever disciplinary action we must take,” Gallard said.  “If someone failed to do their job, we will take action.”

Both the aide at the front desk and the substitute teacher are represented by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the district’s largest union.

Bryant, at 60th and Cedar, has about 500 students, 94 percent of whom live in poverty.