A Washington state principal is on paid leave after allegedly intentionally locking out an 11-year-old boy with autism from his elementary school.
JaMar Taylor’s family claimed that the 11-year-old, who was enrolled at the special education program at Springbrook Elementary School in Kent, Washington, was singled out and left alone outside of the school building without supervision, USA Today reports.
“The principal announced over the intercom for staff and students to not let him in the building, even if he knocked. I have reviewed the video footage myself from that day, and my grandson was indeed locked outside without any supervision,” Lovine Montgomery, JaMar’s grandmother, claimed during a Jan. 9 meeting with the Kent School District board. “He walked around the building and tried to open several doors, but all the doors were locked.”
Despite the family’s accusations, the Kent School district insisted that Principal Ashlie Short’s paid leave, which will continue throughout an investigation, is not disciplinary.
“Our shared focus remains on our core business of teaching and learning, with an emphasis on learning. 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,” a statement from the district noted.
JaVohn Perry, JaMar’s mother, told USA today that her son has been diagnosed with autism, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
JaMar did have problems at school on Dec. 14, when officials claimed the 11-year-old pushed and cursed at the principal, according to USA Today.
Montgomery told KIRO 7 that the principal claimed she felt she was “imminent danger” after escorting JaMar and another student back to their classroom.
However, according to family, JaMar had asked to go to the bathroom, but the principal allegedly refused to let him do so. He tries to move past her, and surveillance footage shows her taking a step back, but at no point did it appear as if JaMar ever got agitated. He gives up and goes out the back door, and that is when he was locked out.
“I felt like she put my son in danger,” Perry said.
There is video footage of JaMar being locked out that was captured on surveillance, footage which Montgomery said broke her heart.
“Every time I watch this video it breaks my heart,” she told KIRO7.
JaMar was seen in the footage wandering around outside for about 15 minutes, with staff refusing him entry. At one point a teacher could be seen on footage closing the blinds to ignore the wandering child, a teacher that was supposed to be his one-on-one peer educator that day, according to his mother.
“This is his school where they are supposed to keep him safe,” Montgomery said, “and they intentionally locked him outside.”
Eventually, another student lets JaMar back into the building, but according to the family, that child was suspended for two days.
Now, JaMar won’t be returning to Springbrook, but the family is still demanding answers.
“Imagine how my son was feeling? This is bullying,” Perry said.