As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed one of the kids, an adolescent girl, wandering outside the school building. I kept a close eye on her, and soon noticed that staff were nearby. The girl circled the building, trying to stay a step ahead and out of sight of the staff who were supervising her. She startled when she heard my car door. As she turned to look at me, I called out to ask her what she was up to. Despite attempting to elude staff, she began to approach me.
As I pretended to not be concerned about her elusive behavior, she walked to my car and asked if I had Ross with me. As I continued to speak casually with her, she walked with me to the back of my car, greeted Ross, and continued to walk with me as I went about my normal arrival routine, continuing to ask her questions about what was going on. As she stood petting Ross, she answered my questions, as if this was our normal interaction. Staff arrived, and I filled them in. The girl continued to stand with Ross, no longer concerned about getting away from staff. I invited her to walk with me as I headed towards the office, passing through the school building as it was "on the way." The girl walked next to Ross, staff within arm's reach. I continued the casual conversation about what was bothering her, and she cooperatively identified her classroom. As we stood at the door, problem-solving the situation, Ross served as a distraction, keeping the girl calm enough to continue talking and to think clearly. Without a hitch, she calmly made a plan to return to class. Ross and I parted ways, off to our office, the girl and staff checking in with the teacher.