A five-year-old special needs boy was found wandering two blocks away from his preschool last Tuesday. Somehow, the child managed to grab all of his belongings and leave school grounds undetected. Despite the gaffe by school staff to allow the child to leave, the school is suspending the child for leaving without permission.
Buffalo News reports that Gloria Rodriguez was at work last week when a staff member from Early Childhood Center 82 in Buffalo, New York, called her. The staffer said her child had wandered away from the school and was found by a police officer. Rodriguez was told to pick up her son, who was being suspended for wandering off.
Incensed, Rodriguez demanded to talk with the school’s principal. How did no one stop her son from leaving? Why was he being punished for the school's incompetence? Rodriguez had legitimate grievances, but Principal Denise Segars-McPhatter said she was too busy to talk.
“The principal stood up,” Rodriguez said. “She said, ‘I cannot handle this. I cannot deal with this. I have to fax these papers.’”
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Samuel Radford III, president of the Buffalo School District Parent Coordinating Council, sympathizes with Rodriguez.
“You actually picked up the phone and said, ‘I’m going to suspend your child because of our irresponsibility?’ That’s just mind-boggling to me,” he said. “What adult thinks that way?”
Radford and the boy’s parents plan to meet with school administrators today to discuss the incident.
Rodriguez says she has serious questions for the school.
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“We need answers,” Rodriguez said. “What is my son’s standing in school right now? He’s already behind. What will they do to keep this from happening again? What are going to be the changes? How are they going to be able to assure my son’s safe?”
Margaret Boorady, a Buffalo school district administrator, says she will be on hand to speak with Rodriguez today.
“The safety of the children is the first and primary concern,” Boorady said. “It is regrettable that it got to this point.”