12-year-old Shemar Coakley disappeared from Ronald E. McNail Middle School in Fulton County for about two hours Monday, the school said.
Photo: Channel 2 Action News
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

Middle school apologizes after special needs student disappeared for 2 hours

A Fulton County middle school admitted to Channel 2 Action News that mistakes were made Monday that led to the disappearance of a 12-year-old student with special needs for about two hours.

Sheneka Coakley said her son Shemar was supposed to get on a bus for special needs children at Robert E. McNair Middle School at 4:30 p.m., but he never did, Channel 2 reported. Shemar is diagnosed with autism.

Sheneka Coakley
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

Coakley called the school, and a staff member told her Shemar got on the bus, but when he didn’t show up, she began to worry.

“Atlanta is high in sex trafficking, Coakley told Channel 2. “Anything could’ve happened to my baby.”

She then called the bus barn, and they told her Shemar never got on the bus. On another call with the school, an official told the bus driver someone actually dismissed the child from school, Channel 2 reported.

Coakley then called 911, and two hours later, Shemar showed up at a relative’s home, soaking wet from the rain, the news station reported.

“So we’re talking about from 4:30 p.m. to 6:23 p.m. — My baby was out there, and all everyone could say was just thank God he’s back home safely,” Coakley said. “Yes, thank God, but what happened? Why was he missing to begin with?”

The Fulton County School District told Channel 2 Shemar was mistakenly mixed up with another student and sent a statement that said: 

“School and district leaders shared their apologies for any inaccurate communication that transpired that day, and will be discussing with the parent any changes needed for bus ridership protocols.”

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