Officials do not yet know why or how a fourth-grader left an Anthem school today, and they have not confirmed where she was found after an afternoon search by residents and sheriff deputies.
“At approximately 1:50 p.m. a 10-year-old female student was reported missing from Gavilan Peak Elementary,” Sergeant Calbert Gillett told North Phoenix News shortly after 4 p.m. “Deputies started a search and she was just located and is OK.”
In a letter to parents early Wednesday evening, the school’s principal, Chad Segersten, said the fourth-grader was reported missing after lunch.
“Several adults immediately swept through the school looking for her,” Segersten said in the letter. “When she was unable to be located, we notified [MCSO] and the school did a brief lockout to take a student headcount. More than 20 adults again swept the school and deputies went to the student’s home.”
Several Anthem residents who learned of the situation via social media said they were heading out to search for the girl, on foot, in cars and in ORVs.
At dismissal time the school conducted a staggered release with additional staff and deputies watching.
“We were preparing to email and call parents to provide you with information and ask for your assistance when the child was located,” Segersten wrote. “Based on the investigation and review of this incident, we will make necessary decisions to continue to provide a safe environment for your students.”
MCSO would not say where the child was found. A spokesperson for Deer Valley Unified School District, Monica Allread, said she did not have that information. Gavilan Peak School is on Memorial Drive near the intersection of Anthem Way and Daisy Mountain Drive.
“This is a very unusual situation,” Allread told North Phoenix News. In his five years at Gavilan Peak, Segersten “has never had a student leave campus during the school day,” she said.
“The child is now home safe, and we are all grateful for that,” Allread said. “The child is pretty upset, so Chad will get more information from her tomorrow about exactly how and when she left campus, so the school can make any necessary changes/improvements to ensure this does not happen in the future.”