Wilmington City Schools reviews, changes procedures after missing child found safe; grateful for community response

By Gary Huffenberger - and Tom Barr - News Journal

WILMINGTON — A 5-year-old preschool child was found safe late afternoon Tuesday after a parent reported the child did not arrive home after school, according to the Wilmington Police Department.

Members of the WPD, Clinton County and Warren County Sheriff’s Offices, and Ohio State Highway Patrol as well as local residents including Wilmington College students took part in the search. The search included around the 800 block of Rombach Avenue — where an off-duty sheriff’s deputy had reported he had earlier seen a child who fit the description — and East Main Street, where the child was located by a police officer, according to the City of Wilmington.

Police had earlier shared information about the missing child on their Facebook page, and after he was located, posted that the child “has been located safe and well. Thank you to all who helped ensure he was located safely.”

After he was found, “out of an abundance of caution”, the child was taken to Clinton Memorial Hospital to be checked out, according to the city.

Because of the school-related circumstances, Wilmington City Schools Supt. Mindy McCarty-Stewart released a public statement Wednesday about the incident.

“Due to the immediate and persistent action of our Wilmington Police Department, families, staff and neighbors, we were able to safely locate a preschool student who left school grounds around dismissal time on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. The Wilmington City School District is grateful for the quick response and tremendous outpouring of support shown by our community.

“The preschool staff and district administrators debriefed last evening after the student was returned safely to his parents and early this morning in order for the school team to fully understand how the student was able to leave school grounds. The team has implemented immediate additions to procedures to prevent this from happening while we work on examining our outer perimeter structures. Our preschool has a ratio of one adult to four children.

“District Administration also debriefed with Wilmington Police Wednesday morning to review the response process as well as the safety protocols and structures of our school.

“The Wilmington preschool team is deeply devastated that this incident took place while at school. The team is working closely with the student and family to provide support as they process this event. We are truly grateful for the happy ending, but we want our families to know that our team of very dedicated, loving, and caring educators will continue to work diligently to ensure something like this never happens again,” stated McCarty-Stewart.


By Gary Huffenberger

and Tom Barr

News Journal