Twin Cities teacher suspended after kindergartner walked out of school

ST. PAUL — A St. Paul teacher has accepted a five-day unpaid suspension after a kindergartner left her class in May and walked nearly a mile away from Como Elementary.

A neighbor found the child alone, apparently lost, at Arlington Avenue and Como Boulevard and called 911 at 2:45 p.m. on May 7.

The neighbor waited with the child for about a half-hour before the school district called police about a missing student, according to police records. The boy was driven back to school.

The 5-year-old boy’s teacher, Angela Birchland, told a district investigator he might have walked out while students were in the hallway getting ready to go home.

Birchland didn’t know the boy was missing until an educational assistant returned to her class at 2:55 and noticed he was gone. Birchland initially disregarded the aide’s request that she call the office, according to her discipline letter.

“Your failure to follow basic standards and protocols of students’ attendance and provide active supervision … put the student at risk of serious harm,” reads the letter, signed by assistant superintendent Andrew Collins.

Birchland, who declined to comment, had never been punished by the district before the weeklong suspension.