Parents angry after CA school lets kindergartner walk home alone

Parents angry after CA school lets kindergartner walk home alone

HAYWARD, CA (KPIX/CNN) — It was a rough first day of kindergarten for Jackson at Fairview Elementary School.

The 5-year-old was supposed to be taken to an after-school program, but when no one came for him, he walked home by himself. Home is more than 2.5 miles away.

"I felt he would be safe at school, but he wasn't," said mom Duana Kirby.

On the boy's first day of school, Kirby received a phone call not from the school, but from Jackson himself. The call came more than an hour after school ended.

"He said, 'Mommy I made it home,'" Kirby said. "I was like, 'Jackson, you are supposed to be at school. Why did you take your phone to school?' I thought he took his phone. He said, 'No mommy I'm at home.' I said, 'Who brought you home? He said, 'Nobody. I walked.'"

Jackson's route took him from Fairview Elementary, through downtown Hayward and finally home.

Jackson said since he didn't know street names, he made his way by using familiar landmarks.

"I was just thinking of what could have happened to my son on his way by himself," Kirby said.

Parts of his walk presented some serious dangers for the young boy and could have ended in tragedy. Jackson had to cross some busy streets.

"From 2nd Street, he said there were two benches and he crossed the street, but not where the crosswalk was. He said the car stopped," Jackson's father Larry Kirby said.

Jackson's parents showed up at school after the second day of classes to make sure their son was taken to his after-school program. The school's principal was standing by the gate as school let out and the students left campus.

"[I'm a] working mom of four kids. My husband works as well," Duana Kirby said. "And this is what I have to go through to make sure my kids are safe?"

"The safety and security of our students is our highest priority. The district currently has policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety of children while at school and in our after-school programs," the Hayward Unified School District said in a statement. "We take this incident very seriously and are investigating to determine what steps need to be taken to ensure that this does not happen again."

The couple still has a lot of questions they would like answered by school administrators.

"I'm beyond mad," Larry Jackson said. "When I came here [Monday] and was trying to get answers, I said 'You guys need to get your story straight.'"

The school district did send an automated voicemail message to Fairview parents, providing information about what happened on Monday and promising that school administrators would be keeping a closer watch on students.

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