The parents of an eight-year-old special needs child are relieved that the boy found his way safely home but they’re wondering how staff members at his school lost track of the youngster. They want accountability.
Stephanie Parks said, “My God, he just wandered the streets, just by himself. It's absolutely gut-wrenching; frightening the school had no clue that he had even left their building."
Stephanie and her husband, Staff Sergeant Wendell Parks, are reeling over their son Del’s surprise visit home Wednesday on the last day of school.
Mr. Parks said, “Lucky enough for us, we just happened to be home. Lucky I wasn't at work. Lucky my wife wasn't out getting groceries because if we had not been here, we don't know where he could have gone."
You can see Del's school across the way but still he grabbed his book bag, walked through the building and out to walk home. He crossed several major streets, went to his front door and asked his mom for a snack around the noon hour. Del had never walked home from school before.
Stephanie said, “I ran to the door and I looked out because our child has autism. He has transportation services through the school district, so he has ridden a bus to and from school since he was the age of three."
WOWT 6 News contacted Bellevue Public Schools and received this comment: “Although we cannot comment on specific student information, we did have a student walk away from LeMay yesterday and we are working with parents and staff members to review procedures to make sure that it does not happen again."
Stephanie said, “This is a situation in which Bellevue Public Schools has failed on an entire level. This is an issue from the top down."
Now that school is out, mom and dad can keep an eye on Del.
Del’s father said that since it was the last day of school, the students were told to pack up their things earlier than they normally would for the day. That apparently was the trigger, telling the boy it was time to go home. Since it was not the normal time to dismiss, the bus was not there. Del walked home.