Newark school loses track of 4th-grader with autism

Newark's Spencer Elementary School loses track of 4th-grader with autism.

Newark's Spencer Elementary School loses track of 4th-grader with autism. (12/17/15)

NEWARK - The parents of a Newark fourth-grader with autism are upset with the school district after losing track of their son for several hours.

Antonio Brown, a student at Spencer Elementary School, is supposed to go to an after-school program every day. When his parents came to pick him up Wednesday, they were told by the director that he never made it to the program.

“They were under the assumption he stayed home,” says Anthony Brown, Antonio’s father.

Hearing that their child was not at the program caused the parents to panic. The school district is under explicit instruction to not leave Antonio unattended, because children with autism tend to wander.

"I was outside screaming, looking in the bushes seeing if his leg was sticking out. Did somebody kill him? What happened to him?” Antonio’s mother Gwen Booker says.

It turns out that a substitute school aide put Antonio on a school bus, instead of bringing him to the after-school program. Because Antonio’s parents were not home, the substitute bus driver and a bus aide stopped repeatedly at the home, all the while Antonio rode the bus.

The boy was finally released into the care of his godfather, after Booker called him and asked him to keep an eye out for Antonio.

The Spencer Elementary School principal apologized to the parents and promised to put a procedure in place to bring children with autism from the school to the after-school program.

A spokeswoman with the Newark school superintendent's office tells News 12 New Jersey that they are working with Antonio Brown's family to investigate the matter. Calls to the bus company were not returned.

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