HAYWARD (CBS SF) — The family of an East Bay kindergartner was demanding answers from administrators on Tuesday after he walked more than two-and-a-half miles home alone through downtown Hayward on the first day of school.
The kindergartner’s parents want to know how their child could be safe while at school when he apparently fell through the cracks entirely on Monday.
“I felt he would be safe at school, but he wasn’t,” said Duana Kirby, the mother of Jackson, a new Fairview Elementary School kindergarten student.
On the boy’s first day of school, Kirby received a phone call not from the school, but from Jackson himself. The call came more than an hour after school ended.
“He said, ‘Mommy I made it home,’ explained Kirby. “I was like, ‘Jackson, you are supposed to be at school. Why did you take your phone to school?’ I thought he took his phone. He said, ‘No mommy I’m at home.’ I said, ‘Who brought you home? He said, ‘Nobody. I walked.'”
His parents showed KPIX 5 a mapped-out route of the path Jackson took from Fairview Elementary. The 2.6 mile walk took him through downtown Hayward until he finally reached home.
“I was just thinking of what could have happened to my son on his way by himself,” said Kirby.
Jackson’s parents say after kindergarten, their son was supposed to be escorted to a school youth enrichment program on the campus. It’s a program that the Kirbys pay for Jackson to attend.
Jackson’s shared some of his journey home with KPIX. He said since he didn’t know street names, he made his way by recognizing familiar landmarks.
“[I went] that way right there, then around there, then straight and turned,” said Jackson, pointing down the street.
Parts of his walk presented some serious dangers for the young boy and could have ended in tragedy.
“From 2nd Street, he said there were two benches and he crossed the street, but not where the crosswalk was. He said the car stopped,” said Larry Kirby, Jackson’s father.
Jackson’s parents showed up after school on Tuesday to make sure their son was appropriately taken to his after-school program. The school’s principal was standing by the gate as school let out and the students left campus.
“[I’m a] working mom of four kids. My husband works as well. And this is what I have to go through to make sure my kids are safe” asked Duana Kirby.
The Hayward Unified School District didn’t want to talk on camera but released this statement to KPIX 5.
“The safety and security of our students is our highest priority. The district currently has policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety of children while at school and in our after school programs,” the statement read. “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.”
Jackson’s parents say they would just like an explanation and some peace of mind that their son is safe while they are both at work.
The couple still has a lot of questions they would like answered by school administrators.
“I’m beyond mad. When I came here yesterday and was trying to get answers, I said ‘You guys need to get your story straight,'” said Larry Jackson.
The Kirbys also told KPIX they would have liked to have heard from the Fairview principal or school district directly.
The couple has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning with the director of the after-school program and hopes to get some answers as to what exactly happened then.
The school district did send an automated voicemail message to parents with students at Fairview providing information about what happened on Monday and promising that school administrators would be keeping a closer watch on students.