California

‘Beyond mad:’ Parents blame California school for 5-year-old’s 2.5-mile solo trek home

Jackson Kirby, 5, walked 2.5 miles home on his first day of kindergarten Monday in Hayward, California, when an after-school program mistakenly failed to pick him up, mom Duana Kirby says.
Jackson Kirby, 5, walked 2.5 miles home on his first day of kindergarten Monday in Hayward, California, when an after-school program mistakenly failed to pick him up, mom Duana Kirby says. Screenshot from KPIX

This California boy had a memorable first day of school — and not in a good way.

As his first day at kindergarten drew to a close on Monday, 5-year-old Jackson Kirby headed to the restroom. When he got back, his classroom was empty, KTVU reports.

An instructor with an after-school program had come by to escort Jackson to the on-campus activity, but apparently went to collect other children when he wasn’t there, says Jackson’s mother, Duana Kirby, according to the station.

Finding no one in his classroom, Jackson set out for home — a 2.5 mile trek along major streets in Hayward, California, which included crossing at least one street outside a crosswalk, KPIX reports.

“Jackson saw a building he knows he can see from our house,” Duana Kirby said, according to KTVU. “So he told me he thought if he could get to that building, he could get home.”

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After reaching his home, Jackson called his mother, who was shocked to learn he’d walked home alone, KPIX reports. When she asked Jackson who brought him home, he responded: “Nobody. I walked,” his mother said.

“I’m trying to stay calm now, but when I think about it and what could have happened it sends me into tears,” said Duana Kirby, according to KNTV.

She says the school is at fault in the incident.

“They didn’t know my son was gone,” Duana Kirby said, according to KNTV. “They failed to supervise my child and to me that’s child neglect.”

The Hayward Unified School District released a statement saying it was looking into the incident, the East Bay Times reports.

“The safety and security of our students is our highest priority,” the district said, according to the East Bay Times. “The district currently has policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety of children while at school and in our after school programs. 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.”

But Jackson’s parents are still upset.

“I’m beyond mad,” said Larry Kirby, Jackson’s father, according to KPIX. The parents visited the school Tuesday to ensure Jackson got safely to the after-school program.

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