'Deeply concerning': 4-year-old girl with autism found at Alexandria Metro station after walking out of school

A northern Virginia mother is speaking out after her four-year-old daughter with autism wandered off her school’s campus and was later found at a nearby Metro station.

Several employees, including administrators, were placed on administrative leave this week, according to the district, but the little girl’s mother says that’s just not enough.

Brianna Davis-Suggs says her child, who has autism and is non-verbal, was found barefoot under the tunnel at the King Street Metro station by a bus driver after leaving Alexandria at Jefferson Houston PreK-8 IB School about three weeks ago. 

"You may be aware that a young Jefferson-Houston student left school grounds and was unsupervised for a portion of the afternoon on March, 19, 2024. This is deeply concerning for me as an educator and as a parent," a letter to parents from Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt read.

Officials say the incident remains under investigation but Davis-Suggs took to social media to blast the staff at the school for the dangerous lapse in supervision.

"They need to be held accountable for what happens, whether they’re fired or placed on suspension but that shouldn’t be happening. Whatever the protocols and procedures [are], it should have been done," Suugs said. 

In the letter to parents, Superintendent Kay-Wyatt addressed the safety concerns and the leadership changes, calling the incident "deeply concerning" as an educator and as a parent.

"I was not aware that my daughter was off school property. Even when the teacher knew, she did not let me know right away," Davis-Suggs said. "I have so many different thoughts and opinions on it but really I just want to get my daughter the help she needs and that’s still not being done yet." 

Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent says families should feel confident their children are safe in schools and that the matter is being taken seriously and that further changes will be forthcoming.


Dear Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB Families and Staff,

I am writing to share an important update with families and staff about a student safety concern and some leadership changes at Jefferson-Houston. You may be aware that a young Jefferson-Houston student left school grounds and was unsupervised for a portion of the afternoon on March, 19, 2024. This is deeply concerning for me as an educator and as a parent. Families should feel confident that their children are safe in our schools, and I want you all to know that this matter is being taken seriously, and that further changes will be forthcoming. Several employees, including administrative staff, have been placed on administrative leave this week. In the interim, I have placed some new administrative and support staff at Jefferson-Houston while this matter is being investigated.

Specifically, Ms. PreeAnn Johnson will serve as acting head of schools at Jefferson-Houston. Ms. Johnson is the retired principal from James K. Polk Elementary School and has been serving in a variety of administrative roles at Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) since her retirement. Currently, she has been serving as transition administrator at Alexandria City High School - King Street Campus. In addition, Ms. Julia Neufer is going to be the acting academic principal. Ms. Neufer is currently serving as the division STEM coordinator & elementary math instructional specialist. Both will assume these roles on Thursday, April 11, 2024 and will continue until further notice.

We understand that these changes can be concerning for some staff and families given the immediacy. Our team is here to support the Jefferson-Houston school community as we take these matters very seriously.

We will provide you with further updates in regard to future leadership adjustments as that information becomes available. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to support the students and staff with these new assignments.

For any questions regarding this update, please send an email to ask@acps.k12.va.us. Please keep in mind that any questions related to personnel matters are unable to be addressed.

I am confident that Ms. Johnson and Ms. Neufer will serve the Jefferson-Houston community well and support the school in keeping on track as we work to finish out the school year strong.


Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt