PHILADELPHIA - A 5-year-old girl who was taken from a school classroom by a woman claiming to be her mother was found safe Tuesday morning just outside the city and police were searching for her abductor.
Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said a man walking down the street around 4:40 a.m. heard cries for help and found Nailla Robinson hiding under a jungle gym in a park, wearing only a T-shirt. She's been taken to the hospital to be checked out, Chitwood said, but is expected to be OK.
The investigation was continuing, Chitwood said, and police are looking for the suspect.
Police said Nailla was taken Monday morning from the Bryant School. Authorities released surveillance video showing a woman wearing a full-length, black Muslim garment, her face covered by a black veil, taking the girl out of the school.
Nailla's mother had appeared on local media Monday night, tearfully pleading for her safe return, and explaining how she also wears the traditional chador and niqab.
School district spokesman Fernando Gallard said the woman identified herself as the girl's mother and police said her signature on the school visitors log was illegible. All visitors are supposed to go to the school office after signing in, but Gallard said the woman went straight to the classroom and that the teacher released the girl.
"She said she was there to pick up her daughter," Gallard said. "She took the child and walked out of the school."
The district is conducting an internal review of the incident and going over procedures with the staff, Gallard said.
Under school policy, he said, the teacher is supposed to tell the person to go to the office, where the student would be signed out. "The exchange does not happen at the classroom level," he said.
Police discovered that the girl was missing later that afternoon, when a caretaker from the child's after-school program came to pick her up.