Leavenworth mom finds 8-year-old daughter with autism wandering streets after school due to miscommunication

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LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – A Leavenworth mother found her eight-year-old daughter with autism wandering the streets after school instead of waiting safely for pick up.

Jessica Senger said she used a parent-teacher app to let her daughter’s teacher know her daughter wouldn’t be staying after school. But when she and her husband went to Anthony Elementary School Monday to pick her up, no one knew where she was.

That’s when Senger jumped in her car and found Autumn walking lost and disoriented several blocks away.

Leavenworth USD 453 Superintendent Mike Roth said there was a communication breakdown; somehow Senger’s message didn't reach the teacher assigned to Autumn during dismissal time.

Roth said the district encourages parents to call the front office with transportation changes, but Senger said she didn’t think to call because she always uses the app to talk with her daughter’s teacher.

“There was a miscommunication, so it’s our fault," Roth said. "And so first thing to do would be to apologize, regroup, visit with the parent figure out how we can make that better and then look at procedural processes to make sure that we can either change for the better or make sure that we are following the procedures that we already had in place.”

Senger said she and her husband weren’t comforted by the district’s apology.

“It just feels like it was formatted to protect them, not to really say, ‘We’re sorry for what happened. We’re sorry that there could’ve been a different outcome than what happened,'" she said.

The district said it’s working with Autumn’s parents to talk about what happened and how to move forward. Senger said she and her husband are exploring other options within and outside of the school district.

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