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Cape Coral mother left in disbelief after school "forces" her 5-year-old son to walk home

Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-03 05:20:34-05

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. — Confusion, anger, and disbelief.

That's how Cecilia Willis felt after getting a call from her neighbor, saying that her 5-year-old son Isiah was found walking alone on his way home from school.

"She was like, ‘He said he walked.' And I was like, ‘Whoa.' I know how far I live from the school so no way he walked home.”

A Lee County school principal is apologizing and overhauling school safeguards after a 5-year-old student was forced to walk home from school. The mother of that child called Fox 4 after she said her son, a Tropic Isles Elementary School kindergartner, walked nearly 4 miles to get home.

"You're going to release a 5-year-old just to walk down a road and wander off? It makes no sense.”

That distance is roughly 3.5 miles. Not to mention the busy intersections along the way.

"When the neighbor found him, he was completely dehydrated," said Willis. "He just asked for some water, he was thirsty."

The plan, as mom said, was for Isiah to take the bus Wednesday. On Tuesday, the day before, mom asked the school to have his grandmother pick him up. Instead, they marked him as a walker and he met her around the corner. Which is where, it seems, the confusion lies.

By the time school got out Wednesday, instead of being marked as a bus rider as planned, Isiah was marked as a walker. So he walked.

"She had marked him as a walker when he was really supposed to take the bus to daycare,” said Willis.

Fox 4 emailed Lee School leaders to find out how this happened. A district spokesperson said it was a mistake and the principal meeting with the mother to explain today. Ending with apologies and changes to how things are done at the school.

The district says the school will now be tightening its procedures to make sure this doesn't happen again.

"That's just unacceptable for them to release him without an adult.”

The school district has not said if anyone will be punished. However, they tell us the principal has taken responsibility and has apologized to the student's parent.