School district reviewing policies after Goose Creek kidnapping

Live 5 Investigates: School security policies

GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - Editor's Note: Since this story was originally published, charges against the second woman in the case were dismissed, according to court records.

After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, school districts all across the country ramped up efforts on security. But just last week, a mother was able to walk into a Goose Creek school, where authorities say she kidnapped her child.

When Live 5 Anchor Raphael James talked with school officials, they said no policies had been violated. We reviewed surveillance video from the incident to have a closer look at what transpired at Westview Primary School.

Goose Creek police say a 25-year-old Florida woman walked into the school around 8 a.m. on May 2 and asked for directions to the Head Start classrooms. She approached a teacher, pointed to a child, and said she dropped her dress getting out of a vehicle. The teacher did not allow the woman into the classroom but said she would give the dress to the child. The woman left and the teacher went back to teaching the class.

Moments later, the woman re-entered the school with 26-year-old Neely Blanchard. Blanchard entered the classroom, unannounced, and her child immediately yelled "Mommy!" and jumps into her arms.

Blanchard then handed the teacher several papers, claiming they were a court order confirming her custody of the child. The teacher tried to prevent Blanchard from leaving the classroom, to no avail.

The teacher followed Blanchard into the hallway and tried to stop her by tugging on her jacket, at which point Blanchard told the teacher not to touch her. The teacher replied that Blanchard needed to check with the main office, but Blanchard said it was "court-ordered" and that police were outside if she wanted to talk to them.

The teacher looked and saw no police outside, so she alerted the front office, just as Blanchard and the second woman were leaving the building with the child.

The police report states Blanchard then took off running towards a vehicle driven by the second woman. Video shows the teacher make a last-ditch effort to stop them, grabbing the handle of the car door as the car sped off.

Police said the teacher suffered bruising and scratches to her arms from the incident.

South Carolina Highway Patrol pulled over the suspects' vehicle on westbound Interstate 26 a short time later and arrested Blanchard and the second woman.

The child was returned safely to her legal guardians and the family had nothing but good things to say about the school, calling the teacher who tried to stop the car a hero.

Heroic? Yes, indeed. But how was a child able to be kidnapped from school?

According to the school district, parents of children in the Head Start program are asked to walk their children into school each morning, which contributed to the confusion. But police say this isn't the first time Blanchard has tried to illegally pull her child out of class.

Police say the school placed her on trespass notice late last February, after she claimed she had a court order allowing her to pull the child from school. School officials examined the paperwork and determine it was out of date.

Police said she tried the same thing the next day, and the school put her on trespass notice and told her not to return without a police escort.

The school district says they are working closely with law enforcement partners to closely review its procedures. As part of its ongoing focus on safety, BCSD continues to re-evaluate and improve its safety procedures, including arrival and dismissal times.

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