UPDATE (12:15pm): Nashaly Perez was found safe and sound at a friend’s house, and has been reunited with her family.
Nashaly Perez, the 15-year-old Coney Island girl who went missing from her school on Monday, was a special needs student who was supposed to be under the constant supervision of a full-time paraprofessional.
Perez suffers from attention deficit disorder and behavioral problems, gets easily confused, and also takes anti-hallucinatory medication, according to reports. But despite being assigned a full-time paraprofessional, she managed to sneak out a back door of her school, P.S. 371 in Sunset Park, around lunchtime.
Now the family is saying the school failed to take the situation seriously until police were called.
[Perez's mother Sandra] Rodriguez found out her daughter was missing when she went to pick up her up early from school at about 1 p.m. on Monday because she had a doctor’s appointment.
The mother said Nashaly’s paraprofessional was standing outside when she arrived at the school and seemed unconcerned and told her “your daughter left school.”
Rodriguez then went to the principal, who she said “seemed surprised” that her daughter was missing.
They then called Nashaly’s homeroom teacher who said she also did not know where the teen was.
Rodriguez said the principal’s staff then “kept working, ignoring her” and told her “they were done with her” and she could go home.
It wasn’t until police arrived that the school even bothered to page Perez over the school’s loudspeakers.
The school’s principal, Joan Antonelli, has been reassigned, the Wall Street Journal adds.
The case is already inviting comparisons to that of 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo, an autistic boy who sparked a citywide search when he vanished from his Queens school last year. He, too, was to have full-time supervision while on school grounds and police were not informed for more than an hour after his disappearance. His body was later found in the East River.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who took the helm of the system this year, promised parents that the matter would be fully investigated.
“Under my watch — I’m going to repeat this again — safety is my first concern. Anyone who doesn’t follow procedures will be judged for that purpose,” Fariña told reporters Wednesday evening. She said there was “no excuse” for the lack of supervision.
Perez was wearing a white bandanna, red blouse, black jeans and red and black sneakers at the time of her disappearance. She is 5’3″ tall and weighs 120lbs.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.