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BHAS employee on leave pending investigation

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - A Benton Harbor Area Schools employee is facing disciplinary action for letting an unauthorized visitor take children out of class.

The incident happened at Morton Elementary School on May 16th. Three adopted children were taken from class by a biological parent without permission.

According to Benton Harbor Superintendent Leonard Seawood, the school staff member is on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

“We have to address it we have to make sure that, without putting a heavy hand down on anyone, we have to make sure most importantly that we get this corrected,” Seawood said Tuesday.

Seawood said the records for the children at the school might not have been up to date at the time of the incident. At some point in the past, he said, the woman was allowed to see the kids.

ABC 57 News talked to the mother, Annette Tillman, last week. Tillman said the three children, ages seven, eight and nine, have been adopted for six years and didn’t recognize the woman when she took them out of class.

According to a witness statement obtained by ABC 57 News, the biological family member took pictures of at least one child and was heard saying; “I know you don’t understand and have a lot of questions for me but I will talk to you later and we will be able to be together soon.”

Seawood faulted both the faculty member and the system used by the schools. “One of our staff members should have looked at the record more thorough to make sure that the dates were there and that there was a permission to release the student,” he said.

Seawood said BHAS will word to keep records of children up to date.

Seawood could not release the staff members name pending the investigation.

A police report was filed and according to the Benton Harbor Police Department a criminal investigation is ongoing.

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