ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - A 5-year-old boy was pulled out of school by child protection services in St. Paul -- only there's one problem, it was the wrong child. A combination of similar names with mistakes made by adults caused it to happen, confusing a young boy and leaving his mother with an experience she'll never forget.
According to St. Paul Public Schools, child protective services showed up at Frost Lake Elementary on Jan. 8 to pick up a child named Avante, but they left with the wrong one. Avante Washington found himself answering a different sort of questions where even the right answer was wrong.
"They had him pack up all of his stuff from school and go to another school to pick up an older boy and the older boy in the car said that's not my brother,” Avante’s mom Rebecca Williams said.
School officials said they were sorry and are blaming the mistake on human error, both by the school clerk and child protective services.
It took about 45 minutes for the young boy to be returned to class, but his mother said the damage has been done. Avante now asks about the other Avante and still doesn't understand what happened.
"I don't wish anything bad on anybody I guess but they need to understand what they are doing and what damage they cause to other people’s lives,” Williams said.
St. Paul Public Schools said they're tightening procedures and working with staff to prevent a similar mix up. Williams hopes Avante's experience is a wake-up call.
"My son was in a vehicle driving around in a place where I didn't know where he was…” Williams said.
Ramsey County Child Protective Services declined to acknowledge the case existed or a mistake had been made. Instead, they passed along this list below of procedures typically used when picking up a child.
-Social services workers will contact the location in advance of a pickup to identify themselves and provide the full name of the child to be transported.
-Social services workers identify themselves with county photo ID to the appropriate official at the pickup location to take custody of the child for transport, and reconfirm the name of the child to be transported at that time.
-The same procedure is undertaken while dropping off a child at a location.
-The child stays in the custody of the social services worker through the duration of each exchange with the appropriate official.