A mother in Washington state is outraged after she says school administrators locked her son outside by himself as punishment.
Javohn Perry said she was shocked when watched surveillance footage of her 11-year-old autistic son, JaMar Taylor, wandering outside Springbrook Elementary School in the Seattle suburb of Kent, looking for a way back in after the principal reportedly kicked him out on Dec. 14.
“That was a horrible thing to do,” Perry told station KCPQ. “Anything could’ve happened to him. He was alone. No one was outside with him. I think that it’s unacceptable.”
Perry acknowledged that her son has had behavior issues related to his autism but said school officials, including principal Ashli Short, never made her aware of what happened on Dec. 14. The mother said she requested video from the school’s surveillance system after her son came home and told her about the incident.
“[Short] admitted that she did [lock him out] when I asked her,” Perry recalled. “She said that, yes, she locked him out. That she felt that she was in danger, so she wanted to make sure everyone was safe. So, she locked him outside.”
According to Perry, the principal went so far as to instruct other teachers not to let Jamar back inside the school. She said one paraprofessional even closed the blinds on her son as he tried to get back in the classroom. The “punishment” came after Taylor allegedly pushed and cursed at Short, she told USA TODAY.
The child was left outside, unsupervised, for an estimated 10 minutes before a friend let him back in the building. Perry said she doesn’t believe locking her son out of school was the proper way to handle the situation.
Taylor’s grandmother, Lovine Montgomery, was also less than pleased with the principal’s actions and took her complaints to the Kent school board.
“The decision this principal made to intentionally lock my grandson outside of the school building clearly was child endangerment, pure negligence and it put him in imminent danger,” Montgomery said. “Just watching him go through that as an 11-year-old child, it breaks my heart because nobody, there’s nothing that warrants that type of behavior from an administrator, somebody that you trust.”
Short was placed on administrative leave Jan. 18 following the incident, according to Kent School District officials. The district said the leave isn’t disciplinary action but is simply part of the investigative process.
“Our shared focus remains on our core business of teaching and learning, with an emphasis on learning,” the district said in a statement to USA TODAY. “As the process continues, we are still not able to share any details about the investigation, related complaint or personnel matters and will not comment further as this is a personnel issue and an active investigation.”
Perry has since removed her son from the school and is looking for other schools that can address his needs. For the time being, Taylor will receive private tutoring instruction.
Perry added that she hopes the incident will prompt the school to increase the number of paraprofessionals on campus.
“If they allow this, it’s going to happen to other children, too,” she said.
Watch more in the clip below.