A FIVE year old girl was found wandering the streets of York alone, frightened and cold after she was allowed to leave a primary school party on her own.
Laiyla Nelson, who turned five only last week, was found near busy Leeman Road by the father of one of her schoolmates at about 7pm last Thursday, after a primary school disco at St Barnabas's School to celebrate the end of term.
Mum Emma Bootland said she was horrified her daughter had been put in such danger, and wanted to make sure the same did not happen again.
Emma was leaving home just before 7pm to collect Laiyla from the disco as planned, unaware her daughter was not safely at school, when she received a phone call from friend Daniel Cooper, whose daughter Libby is in the same class as Laiyla, who said he had Laiyla.
At first, Emma thanked him, thinking her friend had simply arrived at school before her and was heading back towards her home with Laiyla.
"I presumed he had picked her up with Libby, but he said 'I don't think you understand, I found her on Leeman Road on her own'.
"I ran down to get her, Laiyla was in a right state. Everything was going through my head."
Emma added: "I was thinking the worst. I knew she was already safe with Daniel so I tried to calm down, but she could have been picked up by anyone, or she could have had an accident."
Laiyla had left the school hall in nearby Jubilee Terrace alone and without her coat, and tried to make the 15 minute walk home to Phoenix Boulevard crossing at least two roads as evening began to fall.
Emma said all her daughter could tell her was: "They let me out Mummy, they said it was home time."
Although there was a checklist of children at the party, Emma believes her daughter wandered out with being ticked off the list.
"I think it's disgusting that she was found on a street corner. She was nearly half way home, she didn't have her coat on and she was freezing.
She added: "I don't know how long she had been out there for, she couldn't tell me."
The school have apologised "unreservedly" but cannot explain how Laiyla was allowed to leave school unaccompanied.
Karen Boardman, the head teacher at St Barnabas’s, said: “We have apologised unreservedly to Laiyla’s parents, who, like us are relieved that no harm came to her.
"An incident like this has never happened at St Barnabas’s School before and in conjunction with our governors and staff we have put measures in place to reassure parents that this does not happen again.”
Until this incident, Emma said she had nothing but praise for the school, but said she felt she had to keep Laiyla away from school the day after the party.
Two days after the disco, Emma held a birthday party for Laiyla when she told other parents what had happened.
"Everyone was really shocked and concerned, because it's an absolutely ten out of ten school.
Now she is simply relieved that Laiyla is safe at home, and hopes the lessons of her ordeal will be learned. "It shouldn't have happened but I am just hoping this is a reality check and it doesn't happen again.
"If your children aren't safe at schoo,l where are they safe?"