Autistic child ends up at wrong Modesto school

08/12/2014 5:37 PM

08/12/2014 5:38 PM

A 6-year-old autistic boy ended up at the wrong Modesto school Monday, a paperwork snafu that caused some initial panic. The first-grader spent about two hours at an unfamiliar school while adults chased down who he was and where he was supposed to be.

Cindy Rodgers said she put her son on the bus at 9 a.m. and at 11 got a text from his teacher at Garrison Elementary asking where Landen was. “My heart just dropped, just fell through my stomach,” she said. “I texted her back: ‘What are you talking about?’ ”

It took 15 to 20 minutes for staff at Garrison, in north Modesto, to track down the little boy at Marshall Elementary, about four miles away in west Modesto. Meanwhile, Marshall staffers were doing some detective work on their own, knowing only Landen’s first name.

“They’re lucky they even got a word out of Landen, to be frank,” Rodgers said. “Marshall did a great job. They put him in one of their autism classes and made sure he was fine.”

But being at a strange school was scary for him, she said. Landen started at Garrison in an autistic preschool class and went to kindergarten and classes this summer there. Rodgers said every form she filled out had him at Garrison this year.

But the special-education door-to-door bus service said it gets its information from the school district, and that paper says Marshall.

“We transported him to the school we were given,” said Storer Transportation Vice President Steven Fernandes. By contract, the company has 10 days to change a student’s route, but Fernandes said in this case, Landen’s new destination will be in place by Thursday.

Rodgers said she is taking her son to school until everything is straightened out.

The wrong school listing likely came from a spring meeting when parents and educators discussed changing schools, said Modesto City Schools Associate Superintendent Ginger Johnson. Mix-ups such as this are rare, she said, “but one mistake is too many mistakes. We know parents entrust us with their children.”

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