DC Public Schools

7-Year-Boy With Autism Ran Away From School, Found 7 Blocks Away

Mother says he's gotten out of the school several times

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A 7-year-old boy with autism ran away from his school in Northeast D.C. Thursday morning and walked seven blocks to another school, and his mother says it wasn’t the first time he’s gotten out of the school.

The boy, who is nonverbal, walked from Bunker Hill Elementary School to Shining Stars Montessori Academy, crossing busy Michigan Avenue.

“I’m hurt; I’m really hurt,” said the boy’s mother, Maya Bowman.

She blames the school.

“Because we have a safety plan put in place, and they did not follow through,” she said.

She said her son left the building a few times over the past two months but never got out of the parking lot.

Last month, she met with administrators and says they told her they would keep a close eye on him.

She put a GPS monitoring device on his waist, and Thursday she got an alert on her phone, showing he walked to his younger brother’s school.

“I was hurt, crying, tears,” she said.

Frantic, she called Bunker Hill Elementary and says an employee told her, “We didn’t know he was missing,” Bowman said. “He should be in his classroom.”

She called police and said officers found her son at the other school.

A D.C. Public Schools spokesperson sent News4 a written statement saying, “DC Public Schools values the safety and well-being of every student and has plans in place to address security situations as they arise. Today we were notified of an incident involving a student at Bunker Hill Elementary and the student was safely returned to their school grounds. Consistent with our protocols, elementary school staff will respond immediately to any unexcused departures from the school ground and alert security partners, including MPD, as needed.”

Bowman said she encourages other parents of children with autism to get GPS monitoring devices.

She will consult with a lawyer to see what legal options she has to protect her son at school.

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