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Alleged abduction scare turns out to be simple miscommunication

Rest easy parents, there was no attempted child abduction at a Cloquet school this week, despite what social media posts may have alleged.

According to a press release from the Cloquet Police Department, the CPD received a report Tuesday, May 2, from a parent of a child at Washington Elementary who alleged that someone contacted the school impersonating the mother of the child that Monday. The report said a caller told the staff at the school that another family member would pick up the child from school. It was later learned that no one from that family made the request. As a result, the child had to remain after school while a guardian came to pick up the child.

Upon receiving the complaint, the school and police immediately began investigating the information. However, before either entity could conduct any investigation, the information was shared on social media by a third party, which quickly escalated and caused alarm.

On Wednesday morning the Cloquet Police and staff at Washington Elementary and the Cloquet School District confirmed that another family, with a similar student name and grade, contacted the school with a request for a relative to pick up their student.

The police department released the following statement Wednesday: "Based on the information obtained in the investigation, we are confident that the situation was a coincidental miscommunication caused by the strong similarities between the families. We do not believe, nor do we have any credible information that this was anything more than a mistake at this time. We have not received any other reports of suspicious activity involving children at our schools and believe our students are safe."

The police and school district are reviewing procedures of how to notify and supervise same-day notices from parents/guardians regarding how they want their children to get home from school. The schools receive dozens of these calls, required by the schools, each day when a parent or guardian plans change.

Superintendent Ken Scarbrough said as the district reviews its policies, parents and guardians should note that the schools may require specific identifying information to change the way their children will get home on a particular day. The school will also require that any students impacted by last-minute changes will be required to wait in the Washington office for their ride to pick them up in person.

"We ask that these calls be made as early in the day as possible to allow time for these changes to be processed," Scarbrough said. "We also ask parents/guardians to be patient with us if we take extra time with these kinds of calls to verify the identity of the caller."

The Cloquet Police Department urges all families to discuss child safety, including child abduction, with their children. Safety tips and talking points can be found at " target="_blank">