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West Islip schools warn students, parents after luring incident

The West Islip School District issued a safety alert to parents Friday after officials said a woman in an unmarked mini school bus tried to lure children into the vehicle as they were walking home from school.

Superintendent Bernadette Burns said the female driver encouraged two elementary students to "come on the bus" Friday as they were walking home on Higbie Lane.

Burns described the woman as "soft-spoken" and between 20 and 30 years old, wearing black pants, a blue top and a hat "similar to that worn by a police officer."

The yellow bus had no markings on its sides, Burns said in his letter to parents, but the rear exit door was painted black with a white or light-pink star or flower.

The students kept walking and returned home safely, Burns said.

Suffolk County police confirmed Friday night that a report had been filed.

In the letter, Burns encouraged parents to talk with their children about safety. She said young students should never be left unattended at bus stops, and encouraged students to walk together to and from school. She also asked parents to remind their children to be aware of their surroundings and not be lured by strangers who seem friendly.

Children should be encouraged to tell an adult they trust when they experience something that makes them feel uncomfortable, Burns said.

"While it is certainly inappropriate to foster a sense of insecurity for our children," Burns wrote, "it is imperative that we provide them with the information and support they need to handle any potentially dangerous situation."

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