MASTIC, Long Island (PIX11) – A Long Island mother is still shaken after she says her 7-year-old son was spotted wandering the street more than a mile from his classroom.
Jacalyn Easters said her son, Brandon McNeil, walked out of Tangier Smith Elementary in Mastic unnoticed Wednesday, after an argument with his teacher.
“She was screaming at him about sitting correctly on the carpet that they read books and things on,” Easters said. “She had screamed at him prior, so I guess he kinda felt done with her, so he decided to pick up his stuff and leave the school.” Easters says Brandon had been crying and asked to go to the bathroom, but instead “he grabbed all of his things, his jacket, his backpack and left out of a side door.”
“I saw the video, he went out the side door and just kept running,” Easters said. “He went past three schools and nobody said anything to him. In fact, she only found out he had left when her boyfriend, Brandon’s father, happened to drive past him and noticed the boy wandering along the sidewalk. “He wanted to come and see me and his father and know that he was safe,” Easters said. “I was in shock, I couldn’t believe he actually walked home from school, his face was red from the cold and his eyes were all puffy from crying.”
The alleged incident comes two years after the body of Queens teen Avonte Oquendo was found. The 14-year-old autistic boy ran out of an unlocked door at his school prompting a citywide search that lasted months. It ended in late January when the boy’s remains were discovered in College Point, Queens.
Surveillance video from inside the building showed that no school employees pursued him the day Avonte ran, and a security guard only showed up many minutes later to close the door that had been left open.
“I feel so bad for that family,” Easters says, “Anything bad could have happened to him (Brandon).”
Easters says she was angry at her for going out of a side door and being “a little sneaky leaving,” but says he also has to be able to feel safe at school. When she contacted the school after he was found safe, she says a school employee told her they thought Brandon was hiding somewhere in the building and had no idea he ran out the door.
“They broke my trust.” Easters said. “For him to feel like he had to leave, that breaks my heart.”
A spokesperson for the William Floyd School District said in a statement to News 12 Long Island:
“We share the family’s concern that a student left the building without permission. District officials have been communicating with the family about the circumstances and we are currently gathering additional information.”
PIX11 reached out to the school for comment but our calls were not returned.