2nd mom says East Bay elementary school lost her special needs child

Melanie Woodrow Image
Saturday, October 28, 2023
2nd mom says East Bay school lost her special needs child
A second San Lorenzo Unified School District mom says her child with special needs was also lost by Del Rey Elementary School.

SAN LORENZO, Calif. (KGO) -- A second San Lorenzo Unified School District mom says her child with special needs was also lost by Del Rey Elementary School. Last week, ABC7 News I-Team reporter Melanie Woodrow broke the story of a 5-year-old boy lost by the school, who was found by a driver in traffic.

The second mom says her little girl was lost inside Del Rey Elementary School last academic year. She's now in a new school in the district, but there are still concerns, including from her own teacher who has texted parents she's not getting enough support from the district for students with special needs.

"I'm making a happy pumpkin," said 8-year-old Murphy Robinson while decorated a pumpkin.

When Janee Robinson heard a little boy was lost by Del Rey Elementary School on Oct. 16 and found by a driver a third of a mile away from the school, she immediately thought of her daughter Murphy.

EXCLUSIVE: 5-year-old with special needs runs down street after Bay Area school loses sight of him

An East Bay family says their 5-year-old with special needs was found running down the street after Del Rey Elementary School staff lost sight of him.

"I was really shocked and scared," said Robinson.

Shocked and scared that it had happened again. She says last spring, 8-year-old Murphy also went missing.

"They had to lock down the school because they couldn't find her," Robinson continued.

"And they had no answers if she was still on campus or not so that was a very scary phone call to get. I said have the police been called and they said no," said Robinson.

Robinson says approximately 10 minutes later, she received another call that Murphy was found hiding in a classroom.

Murphy, like 5-year-old JoJo who went missing last week, was in a classroom for children for special needs.

This school year, Murphy is at Hillside Elementary School because her mom says the district restructured day classes for children with special needs.

Even in a new school, Robinson says she still has concerns.

"I think it's a district issue," said Robinson.

One that even Murphy's teacher seems to be sounding an alarm about.

On Oct, 4, Robinson received a text from Murphy's teacher saying in part, because of a lack of subs for the classes' para teachers, who are assistants to the teacher, she would need to prioritize safety over completing academic work.

On Oct. 11, Robinson received another text saying in part, "Since one of my paras has been absent for multiple days, I have been contacting the office - today I feel frustrated by what they said."

This time, Murphy's teacher sent parents an email she sent to the school principal and district staff saying in part, "I want to understand how one adult is enough for 4-6 kids in my class, especially during lunch and recess. Please remember that 4-5 out of 6 kids are runners. We've had so many incidents since the start of the school year."

The class according to Murphy's teacher's text is supposed to have one adult for every two kids.

"You know, we just want our kids to be safe. We just want them, we want them to feel like kids and go to school," said Robinson.

For Murphy, supervision is especially critical. She's a type 1 diabetic and wears a sensor that goes off if her blood sugar is too high or low.

"Yeah, just sits there on her hip," said Robinson showing ABC7 News the sensor.

"So when it beeps I hear like this, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep," said Murphy.

"That alarm goes off or they're short-handed and nobody's there to hear it you know, there's a very real possibility that she could have serious medical complications, if not death," said Robinson.

The ABC7 News I-Team asked San Lorenzo Unified School District how many times a child has been lost during the current and prior academic year. We also asked the district to respond to Murphy's teacher's texts to parents.

The district wouldn't answer those questions, instead emailing a statement that said "student safety is always the highest priority" and that it was fully investigating the Oct. 16 incident, referring to JoJo.

The statement also said, "... we continually reinforce school protocols to safeguard the well-being of all students."

But Janee Robinson isn't convinced.

"There's a lack of transparency," said Robinson.

"They're not giving anybody any answers. This district does not talk. I just want someone to step up to it. Nobody's owning it," she continued.

Leaving Robinson and parents like her feeling stuck.

"What do you do, what do you do," said Robinson.

"It's a public school system. It's supposed to be accessible to everybody," she continued.

Take a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.