An elementary school is facing questions after a second-grader wrote a fake excuse note to go home early — complete with misspellings — and it worked.
Charlie Dahu, 36, a father of three from Houston, was incredulous when he found out his daughter, Rosabella, 7, was released on her own to take the bus home from Sheldon Elementary after school on Monday. The young girl had scribbled a fake message on a piece of notebook paper directing her to be put on a certain bus.
"Just like any parent would be, I was scared, terrified and confused,'' Dahu told TODAY. "From what I've been told, the school supervisor said repeatedly that they get handed notes from parents like this all the time, so they didn't think anything of it."
Rosabella, who normally stays in an after-school program until 6:30 p.m., wrote a note to her teacher that said, "I want Rosabella to go too dus 131 (sic) today." Dahu was at work when he was alerted by neighbors that his daughter had been alone in front of her locked home trying to get inside.
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"Sheldon ISD is currently investigating the situation,'' the school district said in a statement. "We are reviewing our training procedures to ensure that our after-school grant program staff is properly trained in dismissal procedures. As we move forward, the district is working to make sure that all of our after-school grant staff receives the same training as district employees. At this point, the district is continuing to investigate and will take proper disciplinary action. As always, student safety is our top priority."
Dahu emphasized that Rosabella certainly shares part of the blame.
"She's been talked to and punished for this,'' he said. "I'm not condoning this and saying this is right or putting it all on the school, but how do you let a 7-year-old fool you? She was in your custody as trusted professionals. Plus there were misspellings and the note wasn't even signed."
Leaving Dahu even more surprised is that Rosabella is still learning English. She was raised by family in Jordan and only moved to the United States two years ago.
"That's what baffles me,'' he said. "An ESL (English as a second language) student tricks the school system. That just blows my mind."
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Her motivation for writing the note sounded like any 7-year-old who wants to go home early from school.
"She just said some kids were being mean to her at school, and she was hungry,'' Dahu said. "They wouldn't let her call her parents because it wasn't an emergency, so she wrote the note."
Given the feedback he has received online from other parents and teachers, Dahu believes the incident may be part of a larger problem.
"The bigger issue is if this has been a common thing, then someone needs to do something about the system about how parents communicate with the school,'' he said. "I've read a lot of comments about this, and a lot of teachers themselves said the same thing, that they would've let the child go because they get notes like that all the time. That was very sad."
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