ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene mom Amber Ortiz said she received a phone call no parent wants to receive. She is still in shock after she claims her 16-year-old daughter who is diagnosed autistic, walked out of Cooper High School and made it all the way to South 1st Street and Sayles Boulevard on Monday, April 24, 2023.

She traveled over an hour to the north side of the city. Ortiz shared that her daughter tends to wander off when feeling overwhelmed, but said this is something she let administrators know when she enrolled at Abilene ISD.

“I made it my priority whenever she first came to live here to go talk to the principals and let them know this has happened before she got upset she took off,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz shared that her main concern is that she didn’t find out about the incident until two hours after it happened.

“I wasn’t upset she took off, I was upset the school never reached out to me… not once did any principal, the security guard, nobody contacted me for two hours to let me know that my daughter got upset and that she was missing,” shared Ortiz.

She suggests bullying played a role in her daughter’s reasoning to walk out.

“If she’s been having a hard time in that class with this kid, it could have been prevented even before now where she wanted to take off from school where she didn’t feel safe,” said Ortiz.

In a statement sent to KTAB/KRBC on April 25, 2023, Abilene ISD said:

“Abilene ISD is aware of a situation involving a Cooper High School student leaving campus without permission on April 24. Campus administrators have already addressed this situation with the student’s family and will continue to work directly with them to resolve their concerns.”

Ortiz said her daughter was found safe by police, but now she wants to bring awareness to situations like this one.

“What if somebody held her at knifepoint what if somebody picked her up it’s always the what ifs… speak up for your child find an advocate cause I know there were a lot of parents mentioning they were scared cause they have autistic children and their scared for their children,” said Ortiz.

Currently, her daughter is doing well and recovering from the situation and Ortiz hopes she can return to school and have her bullying concerns addressed.