Investigation under way after special needs student attends wrong school for weeks

September 10, 2013 3:42:03 PM PDT
Leaders of Durham Public Schools are apologizing, and reviewing enrollment information after a special needs student was attending the wrong school for weeks.

T.J., an autistic kindergartner, was going to classes for the past two weeks, but just not the right school. His parents didn't know anything about it until Tuesday when police showed up at their door!

It's been a rough day for Travis Sellers, his wife and their son. The kindergartner they've been waving goodbye to at the bus stop every morning has been on a misadventure of sorts.

"We put him on the bus thinking he's going to one place," said Sellers.

That place is W.G. Pearson Magnet School in Durham.

"He's thinking he's going there in his mind at five years old," said Sellers.

That's what his parents thought too until a social worker and a police officer showed up at their home demanding to know why T.J. hadn't been going to school. They were shocked to find out what  was happening.

"He's been taken to Hillandale the whole time," said Sellers.

That's Hillandale Elementary School which is eight miles away from Pearson Magnet School.

"He's in a whole new environment and we didn't know about it and he's thinking he's just going to school," said Sellers.

Durham Schools told the ABC I-Team a computer error is to blame, and officials say they're sorry for the mix-up, but that administrators made several unsuccessful attempts to reach his parents.

"They have three numbers: mine, my wife's, and my mother's. So my thing is who did they call," asked Sellers.

They also wonder, what T.J. did the past two weeks in the wrong program, and at the wrong school.

"Somebody dropped the ball somewhere," said Sellers. "The paper was pushed to the side, and that's what I don't want to happen anymore."

Durham school officials say this is an isolated incident, but they'll be reviewing enrollment records, especially among special needs students,  to make sure this doesn't happen again.

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