A parent's greatest fear and a schoolboy's biggest fantasy both came true on Thursday when a five-year-old boy simply walked out of school and kept going, leaving his Chelsea kindergarten and making his way to the C/E subway station at 23rd Street. Where was he going? That remains unclear, but the nearest toy store in Chelea is... not for kids. So maybe he was headed uptown to the LEGO flagship store? Sure.
A more pressing question is, obviously, HOW IN THE HELL did the school so utterly fail in its responsibility to safeguard the students that a five-year-old boy was able to stroll out of the building? ABC 7 reports that the incident happened around 12:30 p.m. at PS 11 on West 21st Street. According to a police spokesperson, the boy "headed north and walked two blocks up to 23rd Street, and entered the subway station...he is thought to have ducked under the turnstile and out onto the platform."
It's unclear if the boy was even wearing a coat. Police told NBC NY that the boy "had a piece of paper with his mother’s phone number on it in his hand." Fortunately, a good Samaritan spotted the unattended child and did the right thing, alerting police, who contacted the school and alerted the boy's mother.
"This serious incident was immediately reported to NYPD and the student was swiftly and safely found," a Department of Education spokesperson said in a statement. "We have referred this for investigation and will ensure appropriate follow-up action."
How the boy got out remains a harrowing mystery. PS 11's website claims the school is on lockdown ("ALL doors locked") from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., so unless this kid is some kind of lock-picking prodigy, someone's got some serious explaining to do.
At a press conference with the boy's mother on Friday, Kirsten John Foy, executive director of Arc of Justice, blasted the DOE and the city for endangering the child.
"It is beyond disturbing that the failure of personnel, the failure of infrastructure and the failure of policy allowed for little Synciere to go all the way to the train station by himself, that if it were not for a good Samaritan God knows what may have happened," Foy told reporters.