GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A Greensboro mother pulled her 4-year-old son out of preschool at a local elementary school after he wandered away from campus unsupervised and ended up walking almost two blocks away before someone found him.
“You can’t help but think, 'What if?' And there’s too many 'what ifs,'" Jordan Thornley said. "What if somebody grabbed him, or what if he got hit by a car?”
Thornley met with the principal at Joyner Elementary School Tuesday morning and she says she was told different stories about how far away Jake made it from campus. First she was told he ended up two blocks away, then it was four houses down, then they told her Jake ran off into the woods.
“Anything, I mean anything could have happened to him," Thornley said.
Thornley says Jake slipped out a side door after he went to the bathroom in the middle of the school day on Monday.
"There’s a bathroom right here and a door right here, tell me why there wasn’t a teacher right there?" she said.
She doesn't know how long it took for someone to realize he was missing.
"Apparently they thought he was hiding, so they started looking around, you know, ‘Jake where you at?’” Thornley said.
The school told Thornley a retired teacher ended up finding her son and brought him back to campus.
Guilford County Schools admit someone dropped the ball. In a statement, Chief of Staff Nora Carr told FOX8, "This shouldn't have happened. We have protocols in place, that were clearly not followed, to ensure the safety of our children. The principal has apologized to the child's family, and we, as a district, do as well."
Thornley says the apology is not enough. She says no one notified her about her son's disappearance until a family member picked him up from school.
“I can understand not wanting to call a parent and say, ‘Hey, I’m sorry to inform you, but your child is missing,’" Thornley said. "I would rather you call me and tell me my child is missing and let me help look for him.”
School district spokeswoman Tina Firesheets said Wednesday the school did contact Thornley but that her phone wasn't working, which she told school officials when she eventually arrived at the school. School officials also called Jake's father but he didn't answer the phone, Firesheets said.
They also said the child was found within five minutes.
Jake doesn't seemed phased by what happened. He's already back to playing outside and chasing his big sister.
“You can’t get mad at the kid, because he’s 4. Four. Wandering the streets," Thornley said.
But this is something that she won't get over for a while and she hopes sharing her story will protect other children.
“Yeah, they might not get as lucky. They might not find him," she said.
Thornley said she asked Jake why he wandered off in the first place. Jake said he missed his mom and wanted to go home to see her.
She plans to put Jake on the wait list for another school's preschool program.
We asked Guilford County Schools for more details on what happened and how this situation was handled. A representative said she could not comment, because the district is still actively investigating.