4-year-old goes missing from afterschool event, parents say school staff are irresponsible

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — A 4-year-old student at Pepper Ridge Elementary in Bloomington went missing on Feb. 14, 2020. Jennie and Jaime Sperry, parents of Allie and Aiden Sperry, experienced what they call a parent’s nightmare.

Jaime dropped both Aiden and Allie off at a PTO sponsored “Parent’s Night Out event. The parents said they thought they left their children in good hands, but turned out to be terribly wrong.

You go on your day to day lives thinking okay I have to be back at home at five to see my kids not knowing that one day they could just be taken away from you all because of somebody not watching your kids, who we paid to watch our kids and they lost her.

Jennie Sperry, Allie’s Mother

Jennie said Allie wanted to go home and walked outside of the school. Although she was found, eventually, both Jennie and her husband said school staff should have never let Allie out of their sight.

A family of four grabbed her and put her in the car for about 45 minutes, basically held her close because she was freezing. It was about eight degrees that day and she had been missing for over an hour the PTO board never called us, as a concerned parent that frightens me that we were last to know.

Jennie Sperry, Allie’s Mother

The parents said the family who found Allie called the police to report a child standing alone alongside the road. Allie was then escorted back to Pepper Ridge. That’s when Jaime said the school called him.

I drove to the school she was extremely distraught, her face was extremely red, she was crying so happy to see me.

Jaime Sperry, Allie’s Father

He said the only reason people began searching for Allie is because of her big brother Aiden, who was also at the event. When he could not find his little sister he grew concerned. Aiden said he asked three people where his sister was, adding that their response was they were not in charge.

I think she could’ve died in 8-degree weather.

Aiden Sperry, Allie’s brother

Jaime said his son is a hero, because he watched out for his big sister.

Jaime said she thanks God Allie was found safe, but adds it has been difficult not to think of what could have happened and how the outcome could have been much worse.

…Thinking what if she was not here, what if something happened, what if the gentlemen, who found her could have taken her.

Jennie Sperry, Allies Mother

Jennie said the school needs to make immediate changes to make sure that students are secured during the day and at after school events.

Pepper Ridge Principal, Tina Fogal, said they are working to make sure that all events are secured moving forward.

One of our top priorities is to make sure that all children are safe and so we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that they are safe and take the extra measures or precautions that we need to do at each event.

Tina Fogal, Pepper Ridge Elementary, Principal

Jaime said it should not have taken an incident like this for safety to become the school’s concern.

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