School district authorities in Kent, Washington launched an investigation of an elementary school principal accused of intentionally locking out an autistic student from the school building—leaving him to wander around unsupervised outside.
Kent School District placed the principal, Ashlie Short, on administrative leave Jan. 18 for the incident involving 11-year-old JaMar Taylor, USA Today reported on Saturday.
JaMar was enrolled in the special education program at Springbrook Elementary School in Kent when the principal allegedly ordered staff and students not to let him back into the building on Dec. 14.
In the surveillance video, published in part by KIRO-TV, a janitor locks the school’s doors, JaMar’s one-on-one teacher closes the blinds on him and school staff members laugh at the child, JaMar’s mother, JaVohn Perry, said after viewing the footage. The boy was forced to stand outside the building for more than 10 minutes before a friend let him back inside the school building.
Perry told the newspaper on Saturday that school officials accused her son of pushing and cursing at the principal on the day that he was locked out of the school building. But she said JaMar gave her a different version of his encounter with Short. Even if he misbehaved, the principal had no right to punish him that way, she added.
“I felt like she put my son in danger,” Perry said.
JaMar’s family complained about the incident at a Jan. 9 school board meeting.
“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, said during the school board meeting. “He walked around the building and tried to open several doors, but all the doors were locked.”
Short’s administrative leave, which was not punishment, will continue while she’s under investigation, school district officials said.
“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,” the statement to USA Today said.