5-year-old wanders away from Buffalo school

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The father of a 5-year-old who wandered out of School 82 last week says he is pulling his child out of the school because no “proper” investigation has been launched over the incident.

Last week, Hector Ortiz says his son, who requires special education, left the school and was found wandering by a Buffalo police officer who returned the boy to the school after a short period of time.

But Ortiz and the District Parent Coordinating Council say a proper investigation into the incident has not been launched. The father says he feels his son would not be safe remaining in the school and that he and his family will be looking to home school the 5-year-old.

The incident was mishandled by the school’s principal, Denise Segars-McPhatter, according to Ortiz. He says Segars-McPhatter called the boy’s mother, initially telling her the child would be suspended from school. But that decision was quickly reversed.

“My wife and I told her, how are you going to suspect a 5-year-old? How are you going to have a child held accountable for that?” questioned Ortiz.

Surveillance video from that day has not been reviewed by the district according Sam Radford, President of the District Parent Coordinating Council.

“They said, ‘The videotape is downtown; we have not reviewed the videotape.’ So they don’t even have a timeline of events that took place,” Radford said.

He says the boy’s family is insisting on meeting with Buffalo School Superintendent Donald Ogilvie.

“We want to know that the district is going to put together a plan to make sure that this doesn’t happen, not just to this child… to any child,” said Radford.

Radford also questions whether the police officer who located the child could have contacted Child Protective Services if he felt the school might have been negligent.

The Buffalo School District released this statement:

“The District held an initial meeting today (Monday) and expects to meet again concerning the recent incident in which a child was able to exit school #82 undetected. The District is currently addressing the needs of the child as our highest priority. We are also reviewing existing procedures and investigating the actions of staff members.

“We are not at liberty to share information concerning personnel, nor are we able to further discuss the particular circumstances of the child in accordance with Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guidelines.”

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