The father of a 7-year-old had to scramble to find his daughter after a foster care worker took her — and not another girl with a similar name — from their school in suburban Atlanta.
Sean Harris says he panicked when he went to pick up his daughter from after-school care and discovered she wasn't there. He went to her school, Rosebud Elementary, and was told she was released to a state employee on Tuesday.
That worker was supposed to retrieve a different girl. The girls have the same last name, and share all but one letter in their first names.
Instead the worker brought Harris' daughter to a division office in nearby Rockdale County.
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"I was in disbelief that this could possibly happen," Harris told WSB-TV.
"There should be other measures in place such as checking the date of birth, and further investigating with administration inside the school which they didn't do they just took her and took her to their DFCS office," he told WAGA-TV.
The Division of Family and Child Services says its employee did present documents, including a birth date.
"We are concerned that, even when this procedure is followed, a school could release the wrong child to staff in our division," the agency said in a statement. "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."
Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach says the daughter was returned about 90 minutes after she was picked up, with the worker then picking up the correct child.
"This is a very serious situation and this family's concerns are understandable," Roach said.
The division and Gwinnett County schools haven't said if they have disciplined any employees because of the mix-up.
Harris said the process failed him and his daughter. He says she's scared to go back to school.
"I could tell she was terrified. She was very quiet," Harris said.