Akron mother charged with assault after son was missing speaks: ‘It caused a lot of panic’

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AKRON, Ohio - Rochelle Finney says she was scared, worried and heartbroken as she ran from her sister's house to Robinson Community Learning Center after hearing that her 5-year-old son was missing.

Her mother, Toni Jones, said she called the school and notified them that she would be picking up Ashon Robinson, expecting him to be in the office when she arrived.

"When I got there I saw five little boys in the office, and I looked and I said, 'Where's Ashon Robinson. I'm here to pick him up.' And the secretary said he's already been signed out," Jones said. She told FOX 8 News she was willing to give the school the benefit of the doubt and assumed her grandson was still somewhere inside the school.

But as time passed, the concern grew.

"It's like five after three. School lets out at 2:30 and you are paging him over the loudspeaker. So, 'Ashon Robinson, Ashon Robinson, come to the office.' No Ashon Robinson. Then another teacher came in and said, or another school representative, 'I checked the bathrooms and I can't find him in the bathroom,'" Jones said.

Jones said she called her daughter, who ran to the school wondering the whole time what could have happened to her son.

"You expect to send your kids to school, you expect them to be safe... You would think that's the best place for your kid while you are at work and for that not to happen, it caused a lot of panic, stress, a lot of pain, a lot of pain," Finney said.

Security cameras at the school show Finney coming into the office, taking off her jacket then coming around the counter toward the school secretary.

The video shows Finney attempting to throw punches and kicking the secretary until she is quickly restrained by the school's principal.

A police report said Finney was throwing chairs and damaged a window blind during the outburst.

More than 90 minutes passed before Jones, who left to try and find the boy, the school asked her if she wanted to call police or if she wanted them to make the call.

"They just kept saying, 'We're sorry. We are going to look. We're sorry.' But by that time you can say all the sorries, I understand that, but I have to find my grandson," Jones said.

She found the boy standing in the front yard of his home about a half a mile from the school. He left the building unescorted and walked the whole way alone.

Police did arrive at the school, where they arrested Finney and charged her with criminal damaging and assault.

They said the secretary, who was not badly injured, was taken to a local hospital and treated for a panic attack.

"I see a mother who is emotional, she's upset. She doesn't know what's going on with her child," said attorney Eddie Sipplen, who is representing Finney.

"We can all sit back and armchair quarterback as to she should have did this, but until it's your child, who are we to say that her response was appropriate or not?" Sipplen said, adding that among the things that bothers him is that a 5-year-old was able to leave the school and walk alone through a neighborhood he describes as having high traffic and high crime.

"We have to address that and we will," said Akron City School District spokesman Mark Williamson.

"Our security measures are tight, but when we find out that something like this happens, we address it right away. And we will, and we probably have by now at this point in time," Williamson said. "But I certainly can't say that what she did was justified to go behind the desk and physically assault an employee."

"I'm protective because this is my daughter and I see now that she is being displayed like a little crazy mother, who just came up to the school and jumped on the secretary because she thought her secretary was missing," said Jones. She insisted her grandson was missing for more than 90 minutes and Finney didn't just "think" he was missing.

The assault charge filed against Finney is a felony because the secretary is a school employee.

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