Q: What happens when a police officer finds a 5-year-old special needs boy by himself a couple of blocks from the school house?
A: Suspend the child. At least, if the principal is Denise Segars-McPhatter, and the school is Early Childhood Center School 82. What, you thought the cop did something wrong? Not this time.
From the Buffalo News:
A 5-year-old boy with special needs managed to grab his jacket and bookbag, leave his kindergarten class, get down a flight of stairs and walk out of a Buffalo elementary school undetected Tuesday.
A police officer on patrol around noon happened to spot the child nearly two blocks away in the East Side Kensington-Bailey neighborhood and returned him to Early Childhood Center School 82. Shortly afterward, the child’s mother got a call from a school staffer.
To apologize? To beg forgiveness? To seek the mercy and understanding of parents from those in loco parentis? Nope. Wrong loco.
Gloria Rodriguez and her husband, Hector Ortiz, emotionally recounted their ordeal Friday. Rodriguez and Ortiz had hurried over to the school and were met by the school nurse, the teacher and the principal. But within a minute of asking questions and demanding answers, Principal Denise Segars-McPhatter waved suspension papers in front of them.
“The principal stood up,” Rodriguez said. “She said, ‘I cannot handle this. I cannot deal with this. I have to fax these papers.’ ”
After all, what is school all about if not things the make the principal’s job easier?
It appears that the principal “relented,” although it’s unclear that her decision not to suspend the boy was not the product of the fact that everyone else in the school was monumentally apologetic for the school’s colossal failure to fulfill its duty of caring properly for him, and that the principal was batshit crazy.
Both parents said they were at the school for an hour and didn’t see the principal again until they were preparing to leave. Segars-McPhatter – who had apparently spoken with district higher-ups in the meantime – told the couple she had changed her mind about suspending their son. She added that he could return to school if they could get an aide to watch him.
Parent advocate Samuel Radford III said he was shocked when he heard the story.
“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?”
What adult? Why that would be the adult who sits in the office that says “Principal” on the door. You know, the adult to whom the school board entrusted all that really good school power as well as the responsibility over, you know, children.
H/T Our hinterlands correspondent, Kathleen Casey