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Mother: Daughter with autism wandered from school, staff lost track of child

by: Catherine Varnum Updated:


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The mother of adolescent girl with autism is waiting to find out how six Duval County Public Schools staff members lost track of her daughter during gym class at Lakeshore Middle School.

Kathleen Hahn said her 11-year-old daughter got out through an open gate while at the track for gym class last week before staff realized she was missing.

Hahn’s daughter Shelby uses head phones because of her sensitivity to sound. Last week, Shelby was outside at Lakeshore Middle for gym when Hahn said she got a call from the school.

“Her teacher called and asked if I picked her up. I was instantly upset: ‘What do you mean, where is she?’ ‘We’re looking for her. We’re on lockdown,’” Hahn said.                                       

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It was just before 4 p.m. on Friday. Hahn drove to the school and called 911 and said she was told the report had not been called in yet by the school. After Shelby had been missing 20 minutes, Hahn said the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office called her back and said her daughter was found nearly 3 miles away near Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Kent Campus and they were bringing her back to the school. But when Shelby got to the school, Hahn was in shock.

“She had handcuffs behind her back. And couldn’t cover her ears,” Hahn said.

Hahn said her daughter was terrified and hasn’t been able to sleep since. Now Hahn wants to know from the school district is going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“It shouldn’t happen. She should’ve never been lost,” Hahn said.

When JSO did come into contact with Shelby, they tell us she was combative, and that in situations like that, handcuffs would be appropriate.

The school district said it is investigating the incident

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