SPRING – A Spring Independent School District mother is upset after her 5-year-old daughter was allowed by educators to walk home alone from school one-day last week.
Lyric Howard usually takes a 10-minute walk home from school every day with her sister, Dream Jackson, who is in 5th grade. But last Wednesday, Dream had a meeting for an after-school program that she says usually meets every other week, but this week had a meeting she was unaware of.
“I asked my teacher to call my mom and she said no because a lot of us were asking to call our parents,” explained Jackson.
According to Spring ISD, the teacher messaged the parents on class Dojo, a school notification tool about the meeting.
Lyric and Dream’s mother, Rosenda Love, says she was at work, and getting a message after school does not help the situation, especially if pick-up for other children needed to be organized.
So after school, Lyric was sent home by her teachers, alone.
“It was 5:20 p.m. and me and my daughter arrived home, opened the door and Lyric was there,” explained Love. “She was just crying uncontrollably and she couldn’t get her words out. When she calmed down, she told us a teacher let her out of the school building by herself and didn’t ask where her sibling was. She’s never been home alone, like ever. She was saying she was scared and she was crying. As a parent, it was just heartbreaking to watch. If I had left her home by choice, I would be in jail. That is child neglect.”
Love said when they started school earlier this fall it was made clear by the administration that kindergarteners are not allowed to walk home alone. Love says that day her son, by chance, left the door open when he left earlier in the day and Lyric was able to get in. Had it been any other day, the door may have been locked.
“And of course, there are sex offenders in the area and weird people in our neighborhood,” said Love. “Anyone could have snatched her off the street.”
Love says the next day she went to the school to get some answers. She was told the principal was out of town but the assistant principal was very apologetic. It wasn’t until three days later that she emailed the district asking for an explanation and some accountability. Monday morning she met with the school administration.
“They were very apologetic. Again, they mentioned a lot of promises saying it won’t happen anymore and are thankful she is safe,” Love said. “They do want to make sure Lyric feels safe at the school. They don’t want it to happen again. I respected that they even wanted to meet with me and I respect that they’re planning on taking steps to make sure the kids are safe.”
She says they explained that every nine weeks the staff swaps duties for afterschool activities and this week was in the middle of a staff switch. Although they said this was the cause of the confusion, she says the teacher that let her out was the teacher’s aide.
“They are familiar with Lyric and that she has a sibling who walks her home,” said Love. “It was neglectful and it was careless to not take into consideration that Lyric was there without her sibling.”
So now, even though Love says she appreciates the school taking the blame and acknowledging a misstep, she says she can’t help but replay that day over and over in her head.
“I just still have an uneasy feeling inside,” says Love. “I hear their words but how do you know for sure it’s not going to happen? For her to communicate to me as a five-year-old that she is scared to go back to school because she doesn’t want to walk home alone or be by herself home alone is just scary.”
KPRC did ask about the recent bond proposal that was passed for Spring ISD and if it included any additional safety procedures or training specific to situations like this. Proposition A which was $681 million dollars would fund rebuilding and refreshing multiple schools plus improving district wide safety and security features.
Spring ISD sent us a full statement that reads:
“Spring ISD is aware of this incident, which is currently under review. The campus has had several meetings with the parent to discuss the matter and ensure measures are taken to prevent any similar occurrence in the future. Although the older sibling was not allowed to make a call home, a teacher informed the parent through the campus’ school notification tool, Class Dojo, that the older sibling was staying after school for a meeting.
After learning about what happened, the school leader met with the parent and immediately took action, including an intensive re-training on dismissal procedures. As always, Spring ISD prioritizes the safety and security of our students. We will take every action necessary to ensure our students receive instruction in safe, nurturing learning environments.”