After-school mix-up leaves mom separated from 5-year-old for 2 hours

Ikeena Walthour went to pick up son from school, but says he got on bus instead

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A mother was excited about her child going to kindergarten, but she said in the first week of class, her child was missing for two hours after school one afternoon. 

"It was a nightmare," Ikeena Walthour told News4Jax. "It was something I have never experienced in my life."

Walthour said she went to Sadie T. Tillis Elementary School to pick up her son, but instead, her 5-year-old was allowed on a bus and dropped off on Blanding Boulevard. 

"She said she could not find my son. That is when I got out of the car and searched the school myself," Walthour said. "I am thinking that someone kidnapped my son. I'm thinking that he is somewhere out looking for his mom, scared." 

Walthour said she didn't know at the time that her child had been allowed to board a school bus. She said he moved from the car pickup line to the bus line, but it was never verified that he should be on that bus. 

According to Walthour, her son was dropped off on Blanding Boulevard, just south of Longchamp Drive. Sadie Tillis Elementary is about 1½ miles north on Morse Avenue.

A friend saw the child in the area and called police, Walthour said. He was OK, but she said she was so emotional that she had to be taken to a hospital after her son was found and she wanted to speak out.

"I don't want no other parent to ever experience what I had to go through for two whole hours," she said.

Walthour said the principal apologized. When reached for comment, Duval County Public Schools said:  

"Students were dismissed from school based on the student’s mode of transportation home (bus rider, car rider or walker).  In this incident, the student was placed in the correct group but at some point changed into a bus rider line. Upon learning of this incident, school leadership was in contact with the family to apologize and confirm they would implement additional dismissal category checks to ensure students are and remain in their correct lines."

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