CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The Iron County School District is undergoing a lawsuit after one mother is claiming her children were reportedly released to a stranger, kidnapped and later found out-of-state.
Evan Blandford says he now picks his nine-year-old son up right outside of the doors from South Elementary in Cedar City, after he walked away from school a few months ago.
“Circled the block, waiting for him and came back and he walked off and no one really knew where he was,” says Blandford.
Just a month ago, a mother named Emilee Winston filed a lawsuit against the school district and a local woman by the name of Emily Luciano.
Records show the two women met on a Facebook babysitting group and in 2020, Winston hired Luciano to watch her 3 children, a five-month-old, a two-year-old and a five-year-old. Later that year, Luciano reportedly instructed another woman named Jessica Evans to pick up Winston’s oldest child, the five-year-old from South Elementary.
“You send your kids to school and you hope they’re safe and they’re good when they’re not in your care, but it just makes you aware that you always need to be on you’re A-game,” says Jasmine Torsell.
But records state that Evans wasn’t authorized to pick up the five-year-old from school. Luciano then reportedly illegally boarded a plane to Denver with the five-month-old.
“It’s scary you know you think you’re in a small town you think you grew up in, but it could really happen to anyone, anywhere,” says Torsell.
Documents state Winston then called police after Luciano was giving her the runaround when she tried to locate her children. Law enforcement eventually found her five-month-old baby at the Denver International Airport with Luciano, who pled guilty to the kidnapping on August 21, 2021.
But some parents say they believe the school should have more safety precautions.
“It would be a good time to talk about it, and probably you know have either some things in place to fix it, you know what I mean like more checkpoints or something like that,” says Blandford.
The lawsuit is claiming the district failed to follow its own policies regarding the release of a minor student to a non-custodial parent.