Suffolk mom says school punished son with autism for leaving building

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ELWOOD -

Suffolk County mother says her 14-year-old son with autism is being punished for leaving school.

Michael, who attends Elwood Middle School, would have been at a school picnic Monday if he weren't missing it as a result of leaving his school building last week. His parents say he was missing for more than an hour and that school officials had no idea he was gone.

His mother, Keri, made her son return to the school. But when he arrived, she says the eighth grader was suspended for five days and that there was no apology from the principal for what she calls a serious lapse in security.

Because of the suspension, Michael was not allowed to attend the eighth grade picnic, graduation rehearsal or the end-of-year school trip.

The school would not comment on the situation but issued a letter to parents that said: "Please know that the safety, health and welfare of every student, faculty and staff member is of paramount importance."

Michael's parents say the school did not keep their son safe and punished him for being himself.

"It's like they said, 'Your son's at fault for having autism,'" Keri says.

Michael's parents say they're considering a lawsuit because they believe the district violated Avonte's Law, which was passed to educate schools and caregivers on how to handle people with autism who wander.

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