“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” – Stacia Tauscher.
It was a painful day for Jamar Taylor on December 14, 2018, when his principal at Springbrook elementary school, Kent, Washington him locked out of school. This wasn’t a mistake. As seen in the viral surveillance footage, it was an honest-to-goodness conscious act.
The 11-year-old autistic fifth grader was left wandering outside the premises, vulnerable and confused while the teachers watched. He was outside for 15 minutes before a fellow student let him in.
All he wanted to do was go to the bathroom
When news of the incident reached Jamar’s family, they wanted to know why their son had been put through such distress.
The principal, Ashli Short has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Kent School district. She gave the most incomprehensible excuse for her actions. According to her, and contrary to what was seen on the video, she felt she was in “imminent danger” from the boy’s actions. This statement is highly questionable. In the footage, she could be seen walking him and another special-needs student back to their classroom.
For some reason which is not yet known, Principal Short refused to let Jamar out the door to use the bathroom. He tries to go around her but she obstructs him. Jamar had to go out the backdoor, and that’s when she locked him out.
According to the family, the principal had ordered the rest of the staff to keep the boy out, using the PA system. The boy could be seen in the surveillance footage checking several doors to see if any was open. Despite being calm for the most part, he could be seen running around at some point, in a brief state of panic.
“Every time I watch this video it breaks my heart.” – Levine Montgomery, Jamar’s Grandmother
In a chat with Jessica Oh from KIRO 7 News, Jamar’s grandma, Levine Montgomery says there’s no excuse for what happened to her grandson. “There’s no reason for that. He’s 11 years old. This is his school, where they are supposed to keep him safe, and they are intentionally locking him outside. There’s no reason to lock a child outside and to tell your staff, do not let him in even if he knocks on the door.”
His peer educator (who was supposed to be having a one-on-one with him that day) actually closed the blinds when she saw him coming up to her window.
Another student finally came to his rescue, opening one of the doors to let him in. Following the incident, Principal Short suspended Jamar for two days.
His mother, Javohn Perry was having none of that. Despite the fact that Jamar is never returning to Springbrook, she still wants justice for her son. “Imagine how my son was feeling. It’s bullying,” she said.
According to KIRO 7, the Kent school district didn’t specify the reason why the principal has been placed on paid leave. His mother hopes to find him a school more suited to the needs of an autistic child.
- C. Dixon. No date available. Autistic student locked out by principal. Retrieved from https://blog.theautismsite.greatergood.com/child-locked-school-principal/
- Jessica Oh. 2019, January 23. Child with autism locked out of school. Retrieved from https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/child-with-autism-locked-out-of-school/908564250
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