Pasco mom: School lost 6-year-old daughter after first day

District denies wrongdoing
Posted at 6:28 PM, Aug 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-17 18:28:47-04

By all accounts, it was a smooth first day of school for 6-year-old Helen Carrasquillo. But that quickly changed at the end of the day at Veterans Elementary School in Wesley Chapel. 

"Oh my God, I was terrified," said Helen's mother, Jessica. 

When Jessica Carrasquillo went to pick her daughter up from school, the first grade student wasn't there. 

Carrasquillo says she couldn't get a straight answer from staff members on the whereabouts of Helen. 

Then a phone call from the principal came in saying they found Helen. 

A Good Samaritan in a nearby neighborhood took the girl in, keeping her safe until school officials and police arrived. 

"I didn't even know she was gone," said Carrasquillo Wednesday, in tears. "Anything could have happened. Thank goodness good people found her, but I didn't even know she was in trouble." 

Carrasquillo says she told school officials a parent or approved adult has to be present for Helen to leave school. 

ABC Action News found out the 6-year-old was allowed to leave the school's gated area and walk home along a busy State Road 54 with other students. 

The Pasco County parent is still emotional over the incident two days later, left worried about what could have happened to her girl.

"You automatically assume the worst," said Carrasquillo. 

A Pasco County School District spokesperson says the school staff members did nothing wrong. 

The school district says Carrasquillo was 10 to 15 minutes late picking up Helen from school Monday, and they are not in charge of supervision after students are released, unless previously arranged. 

It is school policy that parents submit written instructions that say a student is not allowed to walk home or leave without an adult present. Carrasquillo says she made submitted that note before school started. 

Now, she wants an apology for the mix-up.

"Do I trust the safety of my child to that school anymore? Absolutely not," said Carrasquillo. "They lost her and then lied about it."