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Parents seek answers after 7-year-old son with autism leaves Indianapolis school, gets hit by car

Posted at 6:38 PM, Aug 28, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — A boy was hit by a car Monday afternoon on the west side of Indianapolis after somehow leaving his Indianapolis Public School. Now, the boy's parents want answers.

"They failed me and my child, severely. My son could've been killed," Pearl Barnett, parent of IPS student who was hit by a car, said. "This is a mother's worst nightmare."

First-grader, Frank Barnett, who has autism, has been through a lot the past 48 hours.

"I'd like to see justice for my son. I really would," Pearl said. "Because, unfortunately, he's nonverbal. He can't speak for himself."

According to Frank's Individualized Education Program through Stephen Foster School 67, he is never to be left alone.

The 7-year-old's mother wants to know how he was able to leave the west side school, somehow wander to a family friend's home nearby, and get hit by a car.

"I got in the ambulance, and he had a gauge here where his skull was actually showing. And a busted chin," Pearl said. "I mean he was just covered in blood."

Later — a concussion, nearly 50 stitches, and bruising head-to-toe — Frank had to spend the night in the hospital and is now recovering.

His mother feels the school screwed up, letting him escape and didn't react quick enough to protect him.

All of this happened during dismissal when students are trying to exit the school building — a time when Frank should have been riding home on the bus.

"He gets curb to curb service due to the autism. And when he gets in one of those moods, depending on what happened at that time of the incident, he runs," Pearl informed. "And they're all aware of this. It's stated in his IEP which I do have that he should never be left unattended. He's always got to be with another adult which he was not."

IPS would not speak on camera about this — saying he broke away from a staff member and ran out of the building. School administrators immediately called IPS Police as they searched for him. The school says they followed all of the proper protocols, but would not share what those protocols were.

This article was originally written by Stephanie Wade for WRTV .