NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) A 5-year-old boy with autism has been reunited with his family after wandering away from a school in Manhattan.
The child, named Synciere, left P.S. 11 in Chelsea around 1 p.m. Thursday. A Good Samaritan found him inside the 23rd Street subway station and called police, reports CBS2’s Marc Liverman.
“I’m just grateful to God that nothing happened to my son,” the boy’s mom, Mildred Deckard, said.
Synciere was not harmed, but now his family is wondering how this could happen, especially in the wake of the implementation of Avonte’s law which requires the installation of alarms on school doors.
“Not only do we want to find out what happened with Synciere, we want guarantees from the Department of Education that they’re complying with Avante’s Law,” said Minister Kirsten John Foy, executive director for Arc of Justice.
The law was named after Avonte Oquendo, an autistic boy who died after leaving his school in 2013.
WEB EXTRA: Read more about Avonte Oquendo
“Anything could have happened to him from the time he left to school to the time he went to the train station on the platform,” said Deckard. “I was upset and I was afraid for his safety.”
It was unclear how long the child had been missing from the school before he was found. Police said the school has security that checks IDs at the entrance, and the school says it did have door alarms.
“This serious incident was immediately reported to NYPD, and the student was swiftly and safely found,” Department of Education press secretary Miranda Barbot said in a statement. “We have referred this for investigation and will ensure appropriate follow-up action.”
They added that a substitute paraprofessional has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of that investigation.
“We’re calling for systemic change to be happening,” said Rev. Kevin McCall of the National Action Network. “This mother has to send her child to school, she works everyday she shouldn’t have to be worrying about if her son is safe.”
Some parents said they never heard from the school about the incident.
“I’m assuming there will be an email going around explaining what happened,” Altman said. “We’ve never had a problem. This is an awesome community, it’s an awesome school, and we have an amazing principal. So it was really a bizarre thing.”
When the boy was asked why he left, he said he just wanted to see the trains.