A boy who is legally blind and has cognitive damage from brain cancer fell into a drainage ditch adjacent to the Leestown Middle School campus Monday after he walked away from school unaccompanied.
It is the second time since school began in August that a vulnerable student has walked out of a Lexington school on their own.
In this week’s case, the boy’s mother, Amanda Biggs told the Herald-Leader that her son Tyler Biggs, 13, has an inoperable brain tumor and is legally blind. He has an awkward gait and falls a lot. She said that Tyler has to have constant adult supervision. He was with a para-educator, an aide that helps students with special needs, when he ran away from the school, she said.
Biggs said she is concerned that she could have lost her son Monday as a result of the incident instead of to cancer “or he could have possibly crawled out of the ditch and right into the traffic.”
“He got lucky. He just got some bumps and scratches,” said Biggs.
In late August, Christina Broughton said her 5-year-old son Frankie, a kindergarten student, “walked right out of his classroom and out the front door” at Mary Todd Elementary School then walked the two and a half blocks to their home. School officials checked on Frankie within five minutes when he failed to return from the bathroom, Fayette County Public Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said at the time.
Deffendall this week did not identify the student in the Leestown Middle School incident, but said the student left the school building without permission.
“We have met with the family and put a safety plan in place,” Deffendall told the Herald-Leader Tuesday afternoon. She said federal law prevents her from providing some details about the student’s situation.
“The student was transported to the hospital as a precaution,” Deffendall said Monday night. Deffendall told the Herald-Leader that there are eight children in the child’s class, one teacher and three para-educators. Deffendall said Tuesday that school and district officials will look into whether it would be more appropriate for the student to have a para-educator for himself.
Biggs said school officials were looking in the building for Tyler. “What we’ve asked for since he started running off is a one-on-one para-educator,” said Biggs. “His doctors have recommended it. I begged for it. We have yet to have had it. If he had one I have a feeling this wouldn’t have happened.”
“Student safety is a priority for the Fayette County Public Schools and we are very concerned about this situation,” Deffendall said.
“The principal is working with the family and staff involved to put preventative measures in place for this student moving forward. Additionally, the Middle School Office of School Leadership will be working in partnership with the school to review safety procedures and see if there is a need to make any change,” said Deffendall.
In the Mary Todd Elementary situation, the new safety measures include increased supervision and changes to bathroom procedures.
“Each situation is taken on a case-by-case basis,” Deffendall said Tuesday.
Back in March, to make Tyler Biggs’ 13th birthday special, Lexington Police officers dropped off a special uniform for him to wear, then picked him up in a squad car for a ride to school.