Boy with autism locked out of Kent school, principal placed on administrative leave

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 last month.

Now the principal at Springbrook Elementary in Kent has been placed on paid, administrative leave.

JaVohn Perry says she was devastated when she saw this video: her 11-year-old, autistic son wandering around Springbrook Elementary School in Kent after allegedly being locked out by the principal on December 14th.

“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 says her son Jamar has had behavioral issues related to his disability but she says 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 says 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 Kent 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, saying:

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

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

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