SAN ANTONIO — A mother says she hasn’t seen her daughter in four days after
North East Independent School District wrongly released her 7-year-old to her father despite a custody order.
Sadae Ushery, the mother of Na'Zaiah Bateman, says she wants the school held accountable for their mistake.
"I'm depressed,” Ushery said. “I can't function, I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. Each day that goes by it gets harder and harder, and nobody seems to care."
NEISD officials confirmed a new secretary at Walzem Elementary School released Bateman to her father. They say a woman claiming to be Bateman’s mother called and said the father could take her home.
"I trusted them with my child, and I gave them the proper documentation,” Ushery said. “He is not on the emergency contact list, nor the birth certificate; just because he went in there with the same last name, they just released my baby."
Aubrey Chancellor, NEISD executive director of communications, says the school principal apologized to Ushery.
"It was a mistake on our part," Chancellor said. "The receptionist should not have released regardless of whether it was the mom on the phone or not. A phone call is not enough, we need to have that…in writing."
Chancellor says the secretary has been retrained, and called the incident a rare occasion.
Ushery made it clear that she is now worried about the safety of her two other children who attend the school. According to her, Bateman’s father was violent during their relationship, and she says he was just released from prison last year.
"I don't know where she is, like she may be safe, she may be not,” Ushery said. “All the police can tell me is it's a civil matter, 'Just wait, just wait, just wait.'"
Chancellor says while it was their mistake, the situation is now out of the school district's control. She adds that school officials have been in contact with both parents, but Ushery disputes the claim; she says she only spoke to the school principal on Tuesday and they asked her for contact information for the father, which she says she doesn’t have.
Ushery wants the school to take more responsibility for their error.
Bateman has not attended school since she was taken on Monday.