Kim Baldwin was ready to be a parent at Prospect Mill Elementary School.
She attended last Friday’s open house. Her son, Trent, enjoyed meeting his teacher and finding some friends in what was to be his first-grade class. Baldwin even bought “spirit wear” with the school logo and colors. All of Trent’s school supplies were sitting at Prospect Mill, awaiting his arrival in first grade.
So about two hours after she saw Trent off at the school bus stop Wednesday near their Thomas Run residence, Baldwin was shocked to get a call saying that her 6-year-old was at Churchville Elementary School.
For Baldwin, it was a frightening and blood-boiling mix-up. For Harford County Public Schools, it was a snafu following the redistricting of the county’s elementary schools.
“Last year they told me he’s at Prospect Mill, this year they told me he’s at Prospect Mill,” Baldwin said. Baldwin said she was told by a Churchville adminsitrator that her son may not belong there, either.
Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications for Harford County Public Schools, could not be immediately reached Wednesday.
During the summer, Baldwin received postcard noting her son would attend Prospect Mill and inviting them to the Aug. 26 open house that she and Trent attended. So, Baldwin said she was “livid" when she got the call from Churchville and went to the school immediately to check on her son.
“It’s nice to know I put my son on a bus and you take him wherever you want,” she said. “Right now, I just can’t imagine how he felt to walk into a school full of strangers.”
After learning her "tough kid" needed to speak with a guidance counselor to calm down Wednesday morning, she decided to bring Trent home -- despite being told that he would be credited with an unexcused absence for the day.
Baldwin said she called Harford County Public Schools and spoke with an unidentified woman.
“They told me they had 1,700 children to redistrict, and it’s not an excuse, but basically, things happen,” Baldwin said.
Meanwhile, at Prospect Mill, where Baldwin drove to retrieve her son's belongings, she said there also was confusion about her son’s absence. “They even have him on their attendance sheet, so they couldn’t understand why he wasn’t there,” Baldwin said.
It'remains unclear which school Trent will attend. For family reasons, he won't be attending either school Thursday giving the school system another day to sort it out. But if Baldwin keeps Trent at Churchville Elementary, she will have to buy more school supplies, as she noted Churchville calls for “five times more” supplies than Prospect Mill.