Local News

Special Needs Child Taken to Wrong School, Mistaken for Another Child

Posted August 22, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Imagine how you'd feel if your child was picked up and transported to the wrong school-- then, hours later, taken to the wrong neighborhood and dropped off. That's what happened to a Wake County exceptional education student.

It wasn't just a transportation mix-up, the school system actually thought he was a different child for an entire school day.

Nine-year-old Quentin Butler is autistic, so he's not totally aware of just what went wrong Monday, but a lot did go wrong. It all started when Associated Cab, a service contracted to Wake County schools, picked Quentin up at home for his first day of school.

Butler is enrolled at Millbrook Elementary, but the school system and his mother don't agree as to where the associated cab driver was told to take him.

Wyatt Harper, transportation director for Wake County schools, says the family told the cab to take the child to North Ridge Elementary.

Lisa Butler, Quentin's mother, says she told the driver to go to Millbrook.

What happened next was a succession of errors. In spite of the warning, the driver took Quentin to North Ridge Elementary-- the wrong school. In a special education class, Quentin was mistaken by the teacher's assistant and the teacher for another student who was absent.

Ann Hooker, area assistant superintendent, says it was an assumption.

Quentin spent the entire day at North Ridge. When it was time to go home, a new driver from a different cab company picked him up and headed 17 miles in the wrong direction. Instead of going home to the Crabtree area, Quentin was taken to Wake Forest, the other child's home.

Butler, alarmed that her son was not home by 5 p.m., called Associated Cab and learned for the first time that he had been taken to the wrong school. A cab company spokesperson told her they had know idea where the boy was.

Butler says she thought Quentin had been kidnapped. Meanwhile, there was no one home at the Allen Street home where Quentin was taken, so the Lucas Cab driver left the boy in Wake Forest with his boss's relatives, where he remained until 7 p.m. That's when the schools and cab companies determined what had happened. Associated Cab then picked Quentin up in Wake Forest and took him home at 9 p.m.

Butler says she knows her son has to be transported to and from school, but feels as if she doesn't want to trust them any more.

Photographer:Robert Meikle

andKerrie Hudzinski