KENT, Wash. — A family in Kent, Washington, is demanding answers after they say a fifth-grade student with autism was purposefully locked out of school by the principal.
The principal of Springbrook Elementary, Ashli Short, has now been placed on paid administrative leave pending an ongoing investigation, according to the Kent School District.
Lovine Montgomery says there’s no excuse for what her 11-year-old grandson endured on Dec. 14, 2018. Surveillance cameras from the school captured the fifth-grader wandering outside the school for 15 minutes.
It appears staff members are refusing to let him in. One teacher even escorts him back outside when he tries to walk in with other students after recess.
After a few minutes, he’s seen walking up to a classroom. The teacher inside goes to the window and closes the blinds in front of him. Montgomery couldn’t believe her eyes.
“Every time I watch this video it breaks my heart,” she said.
KIRO-TV asked the Kent School District about the case, but officials could not discuss the investigation.
However, Montgomery says this was the result of the principal feeling she was in “imminent danger” after escorting her grandson and his classmate back to their special needs classroom, earlier that day.
According to family members, the child asked to use the bathroom, which as a special needs student, he should have access to anytime. The principal allegedly refused to let him go, so he tried to pass her. Surveillance video shows the principal take a step back, but it doesn’t appear there’s any immediate threat. The child gives up and goes out the back door.
"That's when she locked him out," Montgomery said.
Video shows the 11-year-old repeatedly trying to open doors to get back inside the school. The child seems calm but confused. At one point, he wanders into the parking lot with no supervision. He even tries to open the front office door, but he’s locked out. The family says the principal made an announcement on the PA system, ordering all staff to keep the child outside.
“This is his school where they are supposed to keep him safe,” Montgomery said, “and they intentionally locked him outside.”
After about 15 minutes, another student eventually let him back inside the school. The child was suspended for two days, according to family.
His mother, Javohn Perry, wants answers about the way her son was treated.
“Imagine how my son was feeling? This is bullying,” she said.
She is now taking her son out of Springbrook Elementary with the hopes of finding a school that’s more accommodating of his needs.
“Our No. 1 priority during this time is the continued excellent education and the safety of all students at Springbrook Elementary,” according to the Kent School District.