Autistic boy wanders away from Mesa school; school doesn't notice

Posted at 3:30 PM, Oct 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-12 21:46:42-04

The mother of a son with special needs is outraged after her son wandered away from his east Mesa school and no one noticed.

Reachelle Brooks was contacted by authorities Tuesday after her 8-year-old son, Ky-Mani, left Lexington Life Academy near Southern Avenue and Ellsworth Road.

Ky-Mani, who has autism, was spotted at a nearby gas station by an employee who immediately contacted the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

MCSO contacted the academy to ask if they were missing a student. It wasn’t until then did the school realize the boy was missing.

"I put my trust in these people to keep my son safe and they didn't even know he was gone for a full hour. Anything could have happened in five minutes. He was gone an hour."

According to Brooks, she didn’t even know the incident occurred. She says she found out about the incident after she was contacted by MCSO.

"As soon as they found out they should have called me. I should not have had to call them to find out what had happened to my son. I don't feel safe. It's just my trust has been completely broken. I feel like if the deputy didn't call me, I would never have known what happened to my son."

After reuniting with her son, Brooks said, "I gave him lots of kisses on his face. He was annoyed but his mommy was happy to see him. It was just the thought that this could have been a completely different story."

ABC15 reached out to Lexington Life Academy directly. The owner, Harrison Rogers, called the incident "unacceptable" and said there are several failures in the policies and procedures or in the execution of them.

Obviously, this incident is completely unacceptable. This should never have happened and we have policies & procedures in place that keep incidents like this from happening, but there was obviously several failures wether in the policies and procedures themselves or the execution of them by the staff but obviously many failures collectively. We owe an apology to all our parents and especially to Ky-mani and his family.

Parents trust us with their children and we need to be worthy of that trust. It breaks our hearts that that trust was broke with this parent. What we have to do now is follow up with the parents and explain what happened, how it happened, what we are doing about it and how it will never happen again at any of our campuses.

Obviously words are worthless without action so we have a lot of action to do and we are completely committed to these actions.