‘I’m not leaving that baby alone...’ How a principal responded to 2 a.m. call from police.

Carrie Paul
Carrie Paul

When Carrie Paul’s cell phone rang recently at 2 a.m., the Tates Creek Elementary principal knew something was wrong and quickly picked up.

It was a Lexington police officer calling because a child had been found walking along the road in the middle of the night, and he thought it might be one of her students. The child appeared to have special needs and police officers were unable to understand what the child was trying to communicate.

“With nothing to go on other than the fact that a child with difficulty communicating verbally was found walking along the road in the middle of the night, Principal Paul threw on some clothes, hopped in the car and headed to the police station. The description of the child didn’t match any of Carrie’s students at Tates Creek Elementary, but as she told the first district leader she called, “I don’t care where he goes to school, I’m not leaving that baby alone in the middle of the night,” Fayette Public Schools Spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said at Monday’s school board meeting, when Paul was honored with the district’s 212 Degrees Award for exemplary service.

Through a series of phone calls and help from others who also responded in the early hours of the morning, including Director of Special Education Amanda Dennis and Special Education Resource Specialist Carey Gallaway, Paul was able to work with the state Cabinet for Families and Children and the Lexington Police to identify the student and reunite him with his family a few hours later.

Paul “is a living example of advocating for all children in our community regardless of where they attend school,” Deffendall said.

“We honor her with a 212 Degrees Award for having a heart for every child in our community.”

“In case you don’t believe in miracles,” Deffendall said at the school board meeting. “ I should tell you at this point that the officer who found the child just so happened to be a volunteer with the district’s Real Men Read program. He just so happened to have met this principal the day before when he came to her school to read (to students).. And she had just so happened to give him her cell phone number in case he ever needed to reach her.

Paul texted school officials that night: “The Real Men Read program is how this child was found. Officer (Brandon) Hazlewood kept my cell number. I didn’t even know him until this program started and oddly enough yesterday was his first day,” she said.

Hazlewood didn’t immediately comment Monday night.

Law enforcement officers and many others in the community, including Tates Creek High School principal Marty Mills, are among those who volunteer to read to students at Tates Creek Elementary in the program, which seeks to encourage men to read in elementary school classrooms, Paul said in a presentation on the reading program at the school board meeting. Lansdowne Elementary School was the first school in Fayette county to take part in the district-wide read-aloud mentoring program last year .

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears


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