Special needs student wandered more than a mile after school

KENT, WA (WCMH) — A special needs student was found wandering more than a mile away from her high school Thursday afternoon after a teacher failed to make sure she got on her bus.

Fourteen-year-old Alexis Pena was escorted by a teacher to the school busses, but the teacher turned away before Alexis got on what the teacher thought was her bus.

When Alexis discovered it wasn’t the bus she was supposed to take, the bus started to leave and Alexis thought she was stranded. So, she tried to walk home.

Luckily, to Kentridge students found Alexis more than a mile away from the school. According to KOMO, Alexis was crying by the side of the road when the two girls found her and they took her to a nearby middle school where the staff contacted Alexis’ mother.

Alexis’ mother Gigi Pena is furious with the school district.

“I was freaking out,” she told KOMO. “I was a mess thinking about all the what-ifs. God knows what would’ve happened if she kept walking.”

Gigi kept Alexis home from school on Friday. She said she understands that sometimes mistakes happen, but children with special needs require caregivers to pay extra attention, something she says the school district didn’t do. For now though, she is grateful Alexis is home safe.

“If those girls hadn’t stopped her or even acknowledged something was wrong with her,  God knows what would’ve happened to her,” Gigi said. “She would’ve kept walking, and I wouldn’t have known where to look for her.”

The Kent School District issued a statement admitting the mistake.

“We did not meet our own standards as far as keeping our students safe,” said Chris Loftis, Chief of Communications for the Kent School District. “We acknowledge it and we are going to do better.”

Loftis added that the district will use this incident as a learning moment and work with staff to keep students safe.

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