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More questions than answers after teen left at store during trip

Last Modified: Sunday, October 07, 2012 7:57 PM

By Ashley Withers / American Press

A recent incident that left a Washington-Marion High School student abandoned at a local Walmart is raising questions regarding the district’s policies for extracurricular sponsors and coaches.

On Sept. 28, Myiah Myles, 14, and the rest of the Washington-Marion dance team were headed to Leesville to perform during the school’s football game. The bus stopped at the Walmart on U.S. 171 for the dance team sponsor to pick up supplies. Myles left the bus at this time after an argument with Washington-Marion dance team sponsor Erica Mouton and the bus drove away without her.

Mouton declined to comment, saying that she had been advised by “higher ups” not to speak to the American Press.

District 2 school board member Fredman Hardy said he was contacted by Myles’ mother, Phyllis Kinchen, shortly after the incident.

“We shouldn’t leave children on the side of the street under any conditions,” Hardy said. “I do not know both sides of the story, but we do not condone any case where the child was left unchaperoned.”

However, Hardy said he does not plan to bring the issue up at the next Calcasieu Parish School Board meeting.

“I think the parent is rightly upset, but it is up to the superintendent and the school to decide what happens now,” he said.

Kinchen said she was told that Washington-Marion principal Robert Pete was reprimanded, but that there were no consequences for the sponsor because “she was not an official (Calcasieu Parish School Board) employee.”

Superintendent Wayne Savoy said there is no official districtwide policy for extracurricular sponsors and coaches. He said these appointments are left entirely up to each school principal.

The American Press requested the specific guidelines for extracurricular sponsors — if such guidelines exist — from Pete on Friday but was turned down.

“Let me get this straight: You want me to give you information to use to write another negative article about me?” Pete said. “I’m going to give you the same answer I did yesterday: You have to go through the Central Office.”

Calcasieu Parish’s high school director, David Buller, was out of the office Thursday and Friday afternoons.

The American Press is making a formal request to the Calcasieu Parish School Board for the guidelines regarding extracurricular sponsors and coaches and any correspondence with Mouton regarding the issue.

Posted By: Tavita C.of Connecticut On: 10/11/2012

Title: Disappointed in Adults comments

Are you kidding me? If there is one parent that would not have been upset that their child was left behind on a school trip then that parent's judgement should be of grave concern. I have been responsible for other people's children myself., even in situations where I wasnt getting paid.Would i leave someone's child under any circumstance? NO!!! Bottom line is had this lady Ms.Mouton left her own child in a department store, Child protection services would be all over her and that is a FACT!! So why should she get any different treatment for leaving a child that she was ultimately responsible for? She should't!! Don't judge her? That is a joke.Had something happened to Myiah while she was left behind by the adult responsible for her care. The whole world would be judging this woman. To assume that the child was "trying to be grown" is ridiculous..If she was trying to be anything but a child she would not have immediately called her mother for help. So if anyone deserves to not be judged its the child because she is not an adult and the adult that was responsible for her SAFETY AND WELL BEING left her stranded in a store parking lot . This woman just discarded a child and went about her business without a care in the world. Stop making excuses and call it what it is..IRRESPONSIBLE!!! I have seen stories about daycare workers that left kids in vans and on buses and was punished to the fullest extent of the law..Why should this person be any different..Besides if this is the type of behavior adults are allowed to have on school sanctioned trips it truly makes me wonder what is happening in the schools in Lake Charles...

Posted By: Dez On: 10/10/2012

Title: in loco parentis ... who's liable?

"In loco parentis" is a legal term, loosely translated as "in place of parents," that is used to described a school's responsibility for the welfare of its students.
In this case, the bottom line is that the school was responsible for this student from the moment she arrived on school grounds to the moment she is delivered safely to her parent at the END of this school-sanctioned trip.
It makes no difference if the sponsor left her behind or the student refused to get back on the bus. The SCHOOL and the school board *is* responsible.
When the sponsor notified the principal of her intent to leave the child behind, he should have done one of two things: 1) he should have told the sponsor NOT to leave the child behind, or if the child refused to get back on the bus, he should have told the sponsor to stay with the child until a parent or school official (himself included) arrived to pick up the child. Only then, should the bus have left for Leesville. Period. No game or performance is more important than the life of a child.
What if she had been abducted, or attacked, or hit by a car, or run away before her parent got there? Yep, you guessed it ... the SCHOOL BOARD would have been liable, and because he was an authorized agent of the school board, the principal would be the one on trial. The buck stops with the principal.
Also, what's this I heard about the the bus driver being required to follow the direction of the sponsor?? Bull! She is a volunteer ... he is a school board employee. ALL school board employees should understand the ramifications of "in loco parentis" and since the sponsor was allowed by the principal to be the "one in charge" during the school trip. It was his job to make sure she followed the principle of "in loco parentis" too.

In this case, the bottom line is that the school was responsible for this student from the moment she arrived on school grounds to the moment she is delivered safely to her parent at the END of this school-sanctioned trip.
It makes no difference if the sponsor left her behind or the student refused to get back on the bus. The SCHOOL and the school board *is* responsible.
When the sponsor notified the principal of her intent to leave the child behind, he should have done one of two things: 1) he should have told the sponsor NOT to leave the child behind, or if the child refused to get back on the bus, he should have told the sponsor to stay with the child until a parent or school official (himself included) arrived to pick up the child. Only then, should the bus have left for Leesville. Period. No game or performance is more important than the life of a child.
What if she had been abducted, or attacked, or hit by a car, or run away before her parent got there? Yep, you guessed it ... the SCHOOL BOARD would have been liable, and because he was an authorized agent of the school board, the principal would be the one on trial. The buck stops with the principal.
Also, what's this I heard about the the bus driver being required to follow the direction of the sponsor?? Bull! She is a volunteer ... he is a school board employee. ALL school board employees should understand the ramifications of "in loco parentis" and since the sponsor was allowed by the principal to be the "one in charge" during the school trip. It was his job to make sure she followed the principle of "in loco parentis" too." />

Posted By: Angel On: 10/8/2012

Title: Respect not a requirement....

I say this is a hard one to call...the dance coach is being made to look like the bad guy. What happened to having respect for authority figures as young people? If she would have physically picked the child up and put her on the bus then people would say she shouldn't have put her hands on the child. If she would have stayed other parents would then be upset that their kids didn't get where they were supposed to be (mind you this is a very expensive extracurricular activity that they pay for). She decided to continue in route not to make all suffer for one's blatant disrespect and now she is on the front page of the paper....you can't please everybody! Remember she is a volunteer...when people do something without compensation its usually because they love what they do and the difference they make. She probably takes time from her family to do this, so as parents we need to make sure our kids know and understand that respect will always be given to an adult, especially one who we leave caring for them. We need to tell them they may not like what the adult says or does, but as long as you are not in danger to do as they are told and let us know whats going on when they return and let us be the adults in the matter. As for the school board, yes they should have guidelines in place for all schools teachers and volunteers handling extracurricular activities that spell out what is required and what is expected so that in cases like this everyone knows what to do.

Posted By: tee On: 10/8/2012

Title: Here's a fact!! MAKE HER WALK!!

NOT THE RIGHT ANSWER..This kid was left unsupervised. Whether or not she had a disagreement with the sponsor, she should NOT have been left. We dont know this lady or the kid, but regardless she shouldnt have been left at the store. If ur from LC, you know how close that Walmart is to WM, but dont care if it was next door. IF my child would have been left under any circumstances all hell would broke loose. Now whats the proper way to deal with this you say? Call the principal of the school try to resolve the issue if nothing happens call the parent but dont leave the child! God forbid if something would have happened between the time she was left then picked up..Hmph thats another story. You ask me, sounds like someone is dodging responsibility for this...

Posted By: tee On: 10/8/2012

Title: Here's a fact!!

We don't know all the facts but one remains...she was left at a store on a SCHOOL TRIP. Shouldn't something be done about that?? Why must people criticize the child because she was upset that the bus left without her. I mean it sounds like someone is dodging responsibility for this. Trying to be grown? I dont know about that one. If my child was left at a store on a field trip, I dont give a damn if it was 2 minutes away from the school; All hell would break loose. God forbid if something had happened to her within the time she was left to the time she was picked up. Could you imagine the comments then?? Then who's to blame??..hmph..Lets be real about this...

Posted By: sharon evans from houston tx On: 10/8/2012

Title: unjust

I think that even though a agrument happen you have to remember this is a 14 year child! Would u leave your child like they left Myiah put yourself in Ms.Kinchen shoes. As for Mrs.Mouton to say "higher ups" said not to comment that is very crazy because My God didn't turn his back on any of his children which includes her and as well as. Myiah so before. anyone
judges look at theirselves first. They knew they was going to leave her and they should be charged with abandoned

judges look at theirselves first. They knew they was going to leave her and they should be charged with abandoned" />

Posted By: Not impressed with "The Press" On: 10/7/2012

Title: Where's The People At the Press with Any Investigative Skills?

Hey! Lake Charles American Press. Why do you need to wait for the policies you're asking for? There all right on the CPSB.ORG web page. Just use a little initiative and go look for them yourselves. GEEZ!
Let's see if you print this for the comments.

Posted By: Doug On: 10/6/2012

Title: Trying To Be Grown?

If the student was trying to be grown, she got just what she deserved, and she should be kicked off the dance team. I would have left her, also. However, the coach or the sponsor should have first called the school or the parent to come and get her.

Posted By: Charles Lejeune On: 10/6/2012

Title: The good old days

Why did this bus stop at walmart on the way to a school function anyway?
Did any of the adults KNOW this child got off the bus before it left?
It's sad that, in todays society, teens feel like they can argue with an adult and there are no consequences. If this child had a disagreement with an adult then she should have taken it to her mom instead of confronting the adult. If I'd done that as a teenager while on a school function, I probably would've been suspended from school.

Posted By: amazed On: 10/6/2012

Title: good article

thank you, ashley, for doing a follow up. no spin, just facts and information. if anyone is seen in a negative light, it is because of their own words and actions, not because you reported the facts.

Posted By: claude On: 10/6/2012

Title: Wait fir the facts

You should leave this woman alone until you get all of the facts. The reason she is not an official school board employee is probably due to the fact that virtually no teacher or official school board employee wants this job. They have to put up with too many problems, not only from the students on the dance team, but from all of the parents of the students. Try to interview some past sponsors and you will hear stories that will shock you! I don't know Erica Mouton, but wait until the school board completes it's investigation before judging her.

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