Mother says her 2nd grader walked out of school unnoticed; found on busy highway

CAMDEN, NJ (WTXF) A New Jersey mom is demanding answers after she says her 2nd grader walked out of school without anyone noticing and was found on a busy highway.

"I broke down. The worst fear entered my mind that my son could have been kidnapped or that he could have been the worst hit by a car," said Anna Martinez. 

She still can’t get over the phone call she says received from her son’s school just after 10 o’clock Monday morning.

"They informed me that my son was found on Admiral Wilson Boulevard," said Anna who says she dropped her 7-year-old son Jerry off at Camden Community Charter School in North Camden a few minutes late that day. He was going to the office to get a late pass to go to class which Anna says is standard procedure.  But something happened and Jerry left.

"He told the lady at the school that he left some books home and she told him to go get them. But to me it was a miscommunication when she may have been talking to someone else. But he still was able to leave the school and nobody noticed anything," said Anna.

The second grader made it two miles away along Market Street and eventually onto a busy Admiral Wilson Boulevard. He was 20 minutes away from his home when he walked by Speedway gas station where an employee noticed him and called police.

"It was because a gas attendant decided to face the highway that day and saw my son running down and just grabbed him and that's why he is still here."

Anna says school officials didn’t know her little boy was missing until police brought him back about an hour later. She also says the office worker never checked to see where Jerry had gone.

"I would think the next step would be wait a minute where are you, call the classroom, did he go straight to class, he didn't get his late pass. I was told he was in the books that he was late," said Anna. The frustrated mom says the principal apologized and said they would review procedures but she doesn’t feel they’re taking it seriously.

"As a parent it just doesn’t sit well with me because I need to know my son is safe at school," she said.

School officials declined to talk on camera but told Fox 29 over the phone that they have security cameras, alarms on some doors and that visitors have to be buzzed into the school. They refused to tell me how Jerry was able to simply walk out unnoticed.

The following is a statement from Camden Community Charter School:

"As in the case with any student matter, the school cannot issue a specific statement. However, the
Administrators of Camden Community Charter School and all those who work in the school are
committed first and foremost to the safety and well-being of our students. At no time has any
student’s well-being or safety been trivialized. Our caring staff remains dedicated to the health,
safety and success of every student. Nonetheless, Camden Community Charter School thoroughly
reviews any situation over which parents raise concerns and continually reviews the school’s
protocols and procedures."


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