Parent who alerted school about wandering child gets letter implying he was trespassing

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SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) — A Smithfield parent who snapped a photo of a student wandering outside the high school last week got a surprise when he was called to the principal’s office Thursday.

Billy Forbes thought he was going to talk about how to make the kids safer, but instead he was given a letter implying that he was loitering and trespassing.

“I felt it to be a slap in the face,” Forbes said. “As soon I got to the principal’s office me and my wife sat down and I was handed a letter.”

The letter was reminding Forbes on policies regarding visitors. 

“It says unauthorized persons who fail to leave school grounds as requested will be considered trespassers,” Forbes added.

This all comes on the heels of an incident last week

Forbes was dropping his daughter off at school when he saw an 18-year-old special needs student wandering unsupervised outside by himself.  Forbes says he was concerned about the child’s safety so he snapped some photos of the teen and posted them on social media hoping to find his parents.

“The only person who has ever thanked me was the mother and father,” Forbes said.

Isle of Wight Schools officials say the incident was investigated and it was only 10 minutes between the time the teenager went outside and the time Forbes drove up.  Staff says students were periodically checking on the student.

“It only takes a split second to disappear, get abducted or get killed,” Forbes added.  “I just feel it was a safety issue.”

10 On Your Side talked with the sheriff’s office, which believes Forbes was doing the right thing.  

School officials say safety is only straightened when members of the community, law enforcement and school staff work together.

Forbes wants to know: why the letter then?

“I got a place in my heart for kids and I just want to know that they are safe,” Forbes said. “That’s what my main goal was.” 

The parent of the teenager tells me his son hasn’t been back to school since the incident.

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