KENT, WA (KCPQ/CNN) - A school district in Washington state placed an 11-year-old boy’s principal on administrative leave amid an investigation into his mother’s claim that the woman locked her son, who has autism, out of the school building.
Mother JaVohn Perry says she was devastated when she saw security video of her 11-year-old son JaMar Taylor wandering around Springbrook Elementary in Kent, WA, after allegedly being locked out Dec. 14 by the school principal.
"That was a horrible thing to do. Anything could've happened to him. He was alone. No one was outside with him, and I think that's unacceptable,” Perry said.
JaMar has autism and related behavioral issues, his mother says, but no one from the administration, including Principal Ashli Short, notified her about the incident. Instead, Perry says her son told her what happened, so she requested video footage from the school’s surveillance system.
"She admitted that she did when I asked her. She said that she locked him out, that she felt like she was in danger or threatened. So, she wanted to make sure everyone was safe, so she locked him outside,” Perry said.
Perry says Short also instructed other staff to keep JaMar out, and one paraeducator closed the blinds on the 11-year-old as he tried to get back inside his classroom.
Frustrated by Short’s alleged actions, JaMar’s mother and grandmother, Lovine Montgomery, took their concerns to the Kent school board, saying it was child endangerment and negligence.
"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,” Montgomery said.
The Kent School District started an investigation and placed Short on paid administrative leave. It says the leave is not disciplinary but instead part of the investigation process.
“Our No. 1 priority during this time continues to be the excellent education and the safety of our students,” said the district in a statement.
Perry says she’s removed her son from the school and is looking at others that can meet his needs. She hopes the investigation will lead to action by the district.