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School officials review policies

Apr. 20, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

BARBOURSVILLE -- Cabell County Schools officials said they will be taking a closer look at policies allowing extracurricular use of their buildings, following reports that a six-year-old walked away from Village of Barboursville Elementary on Thursday afternoon.

Jedd Flowers, the school system's director of communications, said the event is one that terrified everyone involved and is being taken very seriously by the administration.

"We're all very concerned about it. It's terrifying when a student is put in harm's way, so we are, of course, taking this very seriously," Flowers said.

The school system was alerted to the problem after the kindergartner's mother found him walking along East Pea Ridge Road on Thursday afternoon. The boy was supposed to participate in an after-school Lego Club organized by parents of other school students. Flowers said the boy's teacher walked him to the room where the club meeting was taking place and, sometime later, he left the building and started walking toward his home.

"There were about 50 kids who attended this club, which was not actually a school event. It was organized by some parents, so there were no teachers there," Flowers said. "We do allow the community to use our buildings from time to time for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and other club meetings. There is a different level of security when our staff is there as opposed to when someone from the community is there."

Flowers said the Legos program has been suspended for now while school officials decide what to do next.

"We're going to meet with all the principals and go over weaknesses they have in their plans," he said. "We've got to look at it and decide what the next best move is. We might not be able to allow these clubs to use our buildings anymore, and that's unfortunate because a lot of people rely on these types of after-school activities."

Flowers said the boy was unharmed and both the school's principal and superintendent William A. Smith apologized to the family. He said in a school district of 13,000 students, it is possible for something like this to happen, though it's not common.

"Most of the time, it's an older kid, and we can't lock the doors from the inside to keep them in because of fire code," Flowers said. "It's really important to talk to your kids and tell them, 'Don't ever leave the building without an adult. Make sure you stay there, get help and don't take off on your own.'"

Follow H-D reporter Beth Hendricks on Facebook or Twitter @BethHendricksHD.

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