OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Right before spring break, a 7-year-old boy with autism was dropped off at the wrong daycare, but his mom wasn’t made aware of the situation until almost an hour later.
JQ Williams said her son typically gets dropped off at Gateway Learning Center around 3 p.m. after school.
However, he was dropped off 1.3 miles down the road at EDM Owl’s Academy on March 9.
“3:12 PM, student is dropped off at EDM Owl’s Academy. Bus Assistant took the student to the door, a ‘new’ Owl’s employee received the student and said thank you,” stated an email sent between Oklahoma City Public Schools Department of Transportation employees.
It went on to say the daycare’s Assistant Director didn’t recognize the child when she saw him in the daycare lobby.
By the time she went outside to catch the bus, it was already pulling out, according to the email thread.
The Director of the daycare was then contacted in which she recommended a phone call to the police.
Williams said her son is non-verbal and had never been able to state his name or age prior to this incident.
Miraculously, he was able to provide that information to the daycare.
“When [the Asst. Director for EDM Owl’s Academy] gained more detail about where the student was from, she contacted OKCPS Transportation,” the email thread said. “Approximately 3:40 PM, [the Asst. Director for EDM Owl’s Academy] contacted OKCPS Transportation and spoke with Supervisor Markiel Harper. Supervisor Harper took a suburban to retrieve the student and take him to the appropriate daycare location. [The Asst. Director for EDM Owl’s Academy] canceled OCPD support.”
At 4:06 p.m., Williams’ son had been dropped off at the correct daycare, Gateway Learning Center.
Markiel then requested the department contact Williams to let her know about the day’s events, according to the email.
“With my son being autistic, he could have had a meltdown. He had no assistance with him. He could have did what we call elope, which is take off running. He did not know this person, so I just didn’t feel safe with him picking him up without it being my choice to go pick him up,” said Williams.
📧 Have fresh headlines sent to your inbox! Subscribe to KFOR’s Morning Headline Newsletter →
Williams said she didn’t receive a call from OKCPS first.
Instead, someone from Gateway Learning had called to inform her that her son was delivered safely.
“To be notified that your child had been returned to a location that he was supposed to be at an hour ago was the most scariest thing ever, especially when your child doesn’t speak for himself,” said Williams.
OKCPS Media Relations Manager, Crystal Raymond told KFOR Williams’ son’s bus driver was covering a route they don’t typically run and believe the driver made an honest mistake when dropping the student off at a neighboring childcare facility.
“Route sheet calls for [the student] to be dropped off at the Gateway Learning Center at 1440 NE 50th St. Unfortunately, the driver took him to a different daycare located at 45 NE 50th St., Owl’s Academy. He assumed he knew “the daycare on 50th” and did not consult the route sheet,” an email from the OKCPS Director of Transportation stated to another employee.
Williams said this is the first time something like this has happened to her son, but she has had several issues with OKCPS Department of Transportation within the last year.
She claims her daughter has been dropped off at the wrong stop before as well.
“I hope that this never happens again, especially not with a special needs child, but with any child. I want them to be professional. I want them to take accountability. I want them to review the policies and get better training. I’m hoping that there will be some peace about this because I’m really hurt and I’m upset,” said Williams.
Williams claims in her conversations since the incident, OKCPS Department of Transportation has been argumentative and “rude.”
“I’m just upset with how I was dealt with and treated and how everything is going right now with the whole thing,” added Williams.
Raymond told KFOR OKCPS has taken steps to reinforce district policies and procedures with their Transportation staff in an effort to prevent something like this from happening again.
“The safety and security of our students is always our priority,” stated Raymond.
It’s been two weeks since the incident and in that time, Williams said her son has been dropped off late several times, including on Wednesday forcing him to miss speech therapy appointments.
“I did get in contact with an advocate. She is going to see if [OKCPS] violated his [Individualized Education Program]. She may have me file a state complaint and arrange a meeting with the Superintendent and others. She will help guide me. I need everyone to hear how [OKCPS] handle students and parents,” explained Williams.
News 4 asked Raymond if the bus driver was disciplined in any way, but she said due to the personnel-related aspects of this issue, they cannot provide further comment.