LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - A mother at Saxe Gotha Elementary School claims staff failed to supervise her 5-year-old son, and he ended up alone by the side of the road.
Shailene Sotomayor said on Monday, Nov. 30 she received a call around 1:30 p.m. from school leadership and was informed that her son, Mason, had walked out of the elementary school. She said he was found off-campus by a custodian on the edge of nearby Old Orangeburg Road.
“You automatically think of course he’s going to be safe at this school. This is their job, you know, and I felt honestly disappointed,” she said.
The school is located across the road from Covenant Community Church, led by Senior Pastor Andy Newell.
Newell showed WIS church surveillance footage showing a child, appearing to be Mason, standing by the side of Old Orangeburg Road for roughly 20 seconds at 1:06 p.m.
A driver stops their car on the other side of the road and appears to check on Mason. Quickly thereafter, an adult appearing to be an elementary staffer leads the child in the direction of the school.
Newell did not allow WIS to record the surveillance footage.
Sotomayor said school leadership told her that Mason’s teacher instructed him to leave the classroom to put a book in his backpack, which was in the hallway.
She said Mason told her that he proceeded to walk out of an open door toward the road.
Sotomayor said she had a meeting with school leadership Wednesday afternoon, where school surveillance showed Mason walking past several adults, including a school resource officer, on his way out.
“It made me feel sick,” she said. “I actually just closed my eyes to see it. Any one of those cars could have ran him over or stuck him in the car. I have no words for it. It’s very scary.”
Lexington School District One’s spokesperson Mary Beth Hill said she could not comment on the story without Sotomayor’s permission, citing privacy law.
Sotomayor said she attempted to call Hill in order to free the district to comment, but Hill said she was never contacted.
Hill did state that the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department should be contacted about the school resource officer at the school.
LCSD’s spokesperson could not be reached.
Sotomayor said the school leadership did apologize, but it remains unclear how Mason was able to walk out.
She said she wants to see more security and surveillance at the school.