D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray assigned Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith to take a close look at how school officials handled the case of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd, who has been missing for more than a month.
Gray wants a full review of how the District handled the case.
For almost two weeks into the search for Relisha, high-ranking D.C. officials claimed she was last seen at her school, Payne Elementary, March 7. D.C. Police later determined the little girl, believed to have been handed over by her mother to 51-year-old Kahlil Tatum, a janitor at the homeless shelter where she lived, had not been seen alive since March 1. They also determined that Tatum misrepresented himself as Relisha's doctor in phone conversations with social workers and school employees.
Relisha was not officially reported missing until March 19.
Tatum was found dead of an apparent suicide in Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens March 31 during a weeklong search for clues to Relisha’s whereabouts.
Smith said she is committed to a thorough review of not only the Relisha Rudd case, but of how the school system’s policy on such matters is implemented in general and what can be done to improve it.
“We want to ensure both with respect to this case that we understand exactly what all of the policies were that people implemented, how people approached it, but also to look beyond to make sure that those kinds of policies are in place for the future to ensure that we have the kinds of safeguards in place that we know that we need for families,” Smith said.
It's not clear whether the final results of Smith’s investigation will be made public.
Tatum was also wanted in the death of his wife, Andrea. Her body was found at an Oxon Hill Red Roof Inn March 20 during the search for Relisha.
CORRECTION (Oct. 29, 2019, 2:45 p.m.): This story previously had transposed two letters in Kahlil Tatum's name. It has been updated with the correct spelling.