Mother says Klein ISD took over an hour to tell her that her 7-year-old autistic son wandered off campus

KLEIN – A Klein ISD parent said it took Brill Elementary School leaders over an hour to let her know her son walked out of school.

Emily Castillo tells KPRC 2′s Rilwan Balogun the ordeal happened on Feb. 26.

“He was seen leaving at 10:25 a.m. [School leaders] called me at 11:52 and I didn’t know exactly where he was until a little after 12:30 p.m.,” Castillo said. “It’s so much unanswered, so much uncertainty that was going on and so it’s not like I could get a clear answer from my son either.”

Castillo’s son has autism and is mostly non-verbal.

“I was really trusting the school to watch him and at least let me know the situation and they really failed me on that part,” Castillo said.

Castillo said it was a testing day in her son’s classroom. Her 7-year-old is in a special needs classroom where the teacher facilitates testing individually. As the teacher was working with another student, Castillo shared that two teacher aides were in a separate room watching the rest of the class, including her son.

She recalls being told later by the principal that something happened in the classroom that occupied the attention of both aides, which allowed her son to leave the classroom and the school.

Castillo said when she was notified her son was missing, she headed to the school and proceeded to drive around the neighborhood, School officials were doing the same.

“I understand they can’t keep track of every student,” she said. “I understand a child with special needs is hard to maintain and look after but there should be zero excuses taking an hour and a half just to let me know that he’s missing.”

Castillo said that she and her son’s father ultimately called police while they were searching. While on the phone with authorities, she learned her son was safe and at Baylor St. Luke’s Hospital with investigators.

Castillo was told someone driving on Louetta Road saw her son wandering, picked him up, then called law enforcement.

“She [saw] him kind of frantic, hitting himself as well,” said Castillo. “Thank God for her, she stopped and managed to get him in the car. I know he’s not the most compliant, especially to a stranger, but she was able to get him in the car and call the police and take him, make sure he’s safe.”

A Klein ISD incident report synopsis states school administrators were aware of the student’s disappearance after checking cameras.

“It was found that the student had exited the school,” the report said. “During the search for the student a Klein ISD Police Officer was notified the student had been located and was transported to a local hospital for precautionary measures.”

Klein ISD shared the following statement they sent to parents in February to KPRC 2:

“Dear Brill Elementary Families,

Today, a student left the school, which prompted a police search. Klein ISD Police and other local agencies worked together to locate and return the student safely to their family.

The safety and well-being of our students are our top priorities. We are fully committed to conducting a thorough investigation to understand how this incident occurred and to implement measures to prevent such an incident from happening in the future.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

The district shared a new statement with Balogun after he asked for details on the initial investigation. District leaders shared those involved with Castillo’s son are no longer with the district.

“The individuals responsible for supervising Ms. Castillo’s child neglected their duties and failed to protect the children under their care,” said Justin Elbert, the Executive Director of Communications for Klein ISD. “They were immediately dismissed from their positions and are no longer employed by the district. Additionally, the principal notified all Brill parents about this incident before the end of that school day.”

Elbert didn’t explain why it took school leaders an hour to notify Castillo.

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