Boy with special needs missing for hours; Mother furious with school

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BELLWOOD, Ill. -- A suburban mother is speaking out after her 5-year-old son was put on the wrong school bus.

He was found safe hours later, but not before police got involved.

Akissa Melek says for two and a half hours on Tuesday she didn't know where her son Mason was. And she says school officials at Bellwood's Lincoln Elementary didn't know either.

“I'm thinking, ‘Oh my God. Where and what happened to my baby,’” she told WGN News. “My heart immediately dropped to my stomach.”

5-year-old Mason boarded the yellow school bus to start his second day of kindergarten Tuesday at Lincoln Elementary School in Bellwood.

Melek says her child is a special needs student who has an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, that she says requires him to have one-on-one support, an adult with him at all times.

After school dismissed at 3 p.m. Tuesday, the bus should have dropped Mason off at his grandmother's house. But he didn't make it there.

His mom frantically rushed to the school and she's the one who called Bellwood police to report her child missing.

Police tell WGN News the boy somehow ended up getting on the wrong school bus that took him to Little Achievers Academy in Bellwood.

Melek says someone from that daycare noticed Mason looked lost and didn't recognize him. They found Melek's number on a contact card in the child's backpack and called her.

Police also responded.

After few hours, Melek was reunited with her son at the daycare. She says she doesn't understand how Lincoln school officials could have lost track of her 5-year-old.

Melek says she had a meeting with district officials on Wednesday and they assured her changes would be made to make sure the dismissal process is more organized. But she is refusing to send her child back to Lincoln Elementary.

WGN News reached out to school officials for comment but haven't heard back.