School zone confusion has boy with autism sitting out of class

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — On the Peninsula, a mother is at the end of her rope over how to get her child, who has autism, to a specialized school.

Alex Williams just wants to go to school. He would tell you that himself, but he can’t. Alex has autism and is a non-verbal communicator. His mother, Tonya Murchison, said her son attends the New Horizons Regional Education Center.

“School has helped him because they give him they give him therapy session as far as psychology and they are teaching him to be independent,” Murchison said.

Three weeks ago, Tonya moved her family from Tarrytown to 81st Street. She thought she was still in Newport News.

“I called Newport News. They told me there is nothing they can do for him, that they took him off the bus route,” she said.

10 On Your Side went to their house the GPS said it is Hampton; the signs do, too — everything does except her address.

“The electric company, light bill company, everyone tells me I’m still in Newport News,” she said.

Tonya’s new home sits right on the city lines. That confusion has caused her son to sit at home.

“It’s very frustrating because my son wants to go to school. He gets up every morning and pointing to the door saying, ‘School,’” she said. “I can’t take him to school. He can’t go.”

She needed help, so she called 10 On Your Side. Here’s what we found out: Alex is registered with Newport News schools. While his house has a Newport News mailing address, it is in the Hampton school district. So, Tonya has to register Alex at a Hampton school before the bus will pick him up.

Tonya feels like her son got lost in the shuffle.

“The more he misses it sets him back, even missing that one day, it sets him back maybe ten days. There is so much he has to catch up on when he goes back to school,” she said.

Hampton schools told 10 On Your Side they have explained the situation and will continue to work Alex and his mother to get him registered in the correct district.