School followed proper procedure when child was taken, spokeswoman says

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 | 5:50 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Administrators at Blue Ridge Elementary School say they followed correct procedures when 8-year-old Sedrick L. Lewis Jr. was taken from school grounds by his father Monday.

Blue Ridge Elementary had not been notified of the court order prohibiting unsupervised visits between Sedrick Lewis Sr. and his son, according to Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark.

“That information must be provided by the custodial parent,” Baumstark said. “We did not have the information on file from the mother saying that the boy’s father couldn’t pick up the boy.”

Lewis picked up his son from the school at about 11:40 a.m. Lewis later refused to return the boy to his mother or the police when he was contacted by detectives.

Acting on a tip, Columbia police found Sedrick unharmed in Miami, Mo., at about 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Information about legal issues such as court orders is typically provided when a child is first registered at the school or if legal circumstances change during the course of the school year, Baumstark said.

According to Baumstark, Lewis had visited the school before.

“It’s my understanding that he came and ate lunch with his child very frequently,” Baumstark said. “So he had been in the building several times. In this instance, he came into the building and didn’t sign out, so that created some suspicion.”

When Blue Ridge told the boy's mother that he was missing, the school learned that Lewis Sr. was not allowed to take his son. School officials then contacted police.

“It’s just unfortunate how these things happen, but from the school district’s perspective, we followed procedure,” Baumstark said. “The biggest thing is for parents to provide the school with the appropriate information on file so that situations like this won’t occur.”

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