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Boy with autism locked out of school, principal on administrative leave: ‘A horrible thing to do’

KENT, Wash. - - The mother of an 11-year-old boy with autism says his school’s principal locked him out of the building on purpose, leaving her son emotionally traumatized. 

According to our partners at KCPQ, the principal at Springbrook Elementary School in Kent, Washington, has been placed on paid administrative leave.

JaVohn Perry told KCPQ she was devastated when she saw video of her son, who has autism, wandering around outside the school after allegedly being locked out by the principal on Dec. 14.

“That was a horrible thing to do. Anything could’ve happened to him. He was alone. No one was outside with him. I think that it’s unacceptable,” Perry said.

Perry said her son Jamar has had behavioral issues related to his disability, but she said no one from the administration, including Principal Ashli Short, notified her about the incident. 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 yes, she locked him out, that she felt she was in danger, so she wanted to make sure everyone was safe, so she locked him out,” Perry said.

Perry said the principal also instructed other staff to keep Jamar out, and one para-educator closed the blinds on Jamar as he tried to get back inside of his classroom. Feeling frustrated by Short’s actions, Jamar’s grandmother got involved and took their concerns to the 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,” said Lovine Montgomery, Jamar's grandmother.

“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 placed Short on paid administrative leave soon after, and started an investigation. The district released a statement to KCPQ, saying:

“Our number one priority during this time continues to be the excellent education and the safety of our students.”

Perry said she removed her son from Springbrook Elementary School and is looking at other schools that can meet her son's needs. She said she hopes an investigation will lead to action by the district.

Kent School District officials said Short’s administrative leave is not disciplinary, and a part of the process of an active investigation.

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