The parents of Symier Talley-Jasper want answers after their 4-year-old son walked out of Bed-Stuy’s P.S. 59 undetected without his coat and wandered home unsupervised in last Thursday morning’s frigid 12-degree weather.
“I’m upset because anything could have happened,” said Symier’s concerned mother, Quantasia Jasper, during a press conference on Friday. “There’s so many different possibilities … there’s all these shootings going on, robberies going on. Anyone could have run into the school while he was running out of the school. Anything could have happened.”
According to Jasper, Symier had gone to the bathroom, and upon returning, he saw that his pre-kindergarten classroom was empty after classmates had departed for the school’s auditorium. Confused, Jasper left the school on Throop Avenue and made his way home, down the block.
“His finger could have gotten smashed in the door, he could have tried to cross the street,” Jasper said. “He looked really nervous, and I asked him if he was OK, and he said he was scared, and I asked him what happened, and he told me he was in the bathroom, it was dark and no one was there.”
The school’s principal, Dawn Best, sent a letter to parents on Friday acknowledging the incident, stating that “additional steps have been taken to ensure the safety and welfare of the students in our school,” such as installing alarms on doors and expediting an already approved order for surveillance cameras. Community leaders say that’s not good enough.
Jasper’s story comes on the heels of last week’s heartbreaking announcement that DNA testing has confirmed that the human remains that were recently recovered from the East River, along the banks of College Point, belong to 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo. According to video surveillance, the autistic teen was last seen alive walking out of his Long Island City school on Oct. 4. The family anguished for four months hoping for Avonte’s safe return. Funeral services were conducted on Saturday in Greenwich Village.
Symier’s family and community leaders are calling for a thorough investigation that may lead to the termination of the the school employees responsible for the child. They are also requesting that the school make procedural changes, like taking head counts of students when they are transferred to different rooms.
Although Symier was not physically harmed, his parents say they are pulling him out of P.S. 59. They question how their son could be missed by school officials or security.
Department of Education officials say the special commissioner’s office is investigating.