Runaway teenage girl lives in school over spring break - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Runaway teenage girl lives in school over spring break

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison police are looking for a teenager that spent part of spring break living inside a school.

Madison police say the runaway 14-year-old girl was living in the Madison school without permission.

"Not at all surprised," said Briarpatch Youth Services Executive Director, Casey Behrend. "Sadly. We estimate that on any given night there are probably 300 youth in Dane County who don't have permanent safe place to stay."

Madison School Board President James Howard says the girl was discovered in the review of security footage. 

"Just like anyone you're a little bit alarmed because one of your buildings had unauthorized entry, but the more I found out about it the more I thought we may, in fact, have done this person a favor," said Howard. "Sometimes you think maybe we should have more access to buildings during times they are shut down for people." 

The girl was gone by the time authorities looked at that footage and realized she had been there.

"Teenagers especially are very resourceful and they will do often times what is necessary to be safe or to be warm," said Behrend.  

The teen found a way in, even though she may not have been that familiar with the school.

"To my knowledge she was not a student at that school because of her age," said Howard. 

Police say she took items from the school, but they were later recovered in a backpack. 
 
Despite the stolen items, Madison Metropolitan School District will not press charges. 

"The district will not press any charges," said MMSD spokesperson Rachel Struach-Nelson. "Our concern now is for this child's safety and well being."

Howard says parents have expressed concerns to the board. 

"Parents are always curious and we've had a number of parents curious about this and have asked numerous questions," said Howard.  "Again there are some people that think that we should be a little more forceful in terms of prosecution of individuals like this but I, as the board president, do not agree." 

Howard also didn't see the girl as a threat. 

"Not really, there wasn't a danger to anyone, in fact, if there was a danger to anyone it was that person themselves because they were seeking shelter," said Howard.  
Police have not been able to find the girl and are still looking. 

"Our main concern was for the individual and making sure the individual ends up safe and gets back into good hands whether it is foster care or family," said Howard. 

Police want to find the girl because they believe she could need protection or services. 
 

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