Timeframe for when kindergartner ran away

By Ben Wolf – bio|email

BIENVILLE PARISH, LA (KSLA) –   In a KSLA News 12 follow-up to an Ark-La-Tex kindergartner running nearly a mile from his school, we've pinpointed the exact times of when the five year-old was last seen on campus, when he was found, and when he returned safely.

The Gibsland-Coleman school principal says five year old Joseph Smith was gone somewhere between 14 and 18 minutes before they located him.

Now the kid's parents desperately want to see security camera footage.

"They told me parents couldn't see the videos.  That wasn't for parents to see," said Belinda Smith.

Smith wants to see for herself how her five year-old son was able to run away from school on Monday.

But Gibsland-Coleman school principal Kenneth Gipson says only the school superintendent can make that happen -- and he has been in meetings in Baton Rouge.

"When he returns, we will let him make that call whether to let them see the surveillance cameras or not," said Gipson.

Gipson tells KSLA News 12 he has reviewed the footage and gave us the play-by-play of Joseph's escape to the minute.

Principal Gipson says the last time they saw little Joseph in the school office was 9:20 in the morning.

Four minutes later at 9:24 AM, Joseph's teacher called the school office saying he hadn't returned to class and that's when the search began."

At 9:38 A.M., the principal says they found Joseph in a yard next to the Head Start school.

Then, at 9:41 A.M. Principal Gipson says Joseph was sitting outside the office, safe and secure back at school.

KSLA News 12 calculated the route at about nine tenths of a mile.

We asked principal Gipson why they never called the sheriff's office when they couldn't find Joseph.

"The first thing we did was call the mother and said Joseph had left the campus.  We were in the process of getting ready to call the authorities when the custodian had located him," said Gipson.

We spoke with Bienville parish school superintendent William Britt who was on his way back from Baton Rouge.

He says he will meet with Principal Gipson Wednesday to recreate the event, look at security footage, and determine what role each staff member had in the incident.

Belinda Smith says she will meet with Superintendent Britt Wednesday afternoon.

Principal Gipson maintains that all students are safe and secure at Gibsland-Coleman school.

Stay tuned to KSLA News 12 for continuing coverage on this story.

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