Police, district investigating after boy, 5, left outside alone at School No. 39

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Rochester City School District is investigating after a 5-year-old student was left alone outside a school and apparently walked almost a mile to find help. The Rochester Police Department is also investigating to determine if a crime was committed.

Five-year-old Jonathan Green Jr. looked to strangers for help after he was left outside alone at School No. 39 earlier this month.

“The teacher left me on the playground,” little Jonathan said.” There were no kids here.”

His father, Jonathan Green, says he received a call from the school after the incident and decided to file a police report. In that report, he says school administrators admitted his son was accidentally left behind outside during recess.

Terrified, in tears, and searching for help, Jonathan Green Jr., known as “JJ”, walked almost a mile away from School No. 39 after he was left outside alone.

“My teacher leave me there,” JJ said, visibly upset. “I was going to houses, knocking doors.”

“It’s a nightmare,” Green said. “It’s your worst dream come true. I mean, I could have gotten a phone call that could have destroyed my entire life.”

Single dad Jonathan Green says he got a call from the school after it happened last week. He picked up JJ and filed a police report. He says it was painful listening to his son describe the fear he felt.

“My son comes home after the whole incident,” Green said. “And he’s like ‘Daddy I called you. I looked for you. Where were you daddy?’ and that just crushed me.”

In those terrifying moments, JJ put his thinking cap on and knew to knock on the school doors, but no one answered. In a frantic search for help, JJ walked down the street knocking on every house he saw.

“I knocked on that one right there,” JJ said, pointing to homes up and down the street.

Finally, someone answered. A neighbor a mile away on Chapin Street discovered little JJ and took him back to the school.

“You see a child standing at your door in tears, scared,” Lavatus Donaldson said. “As an adult, you’re scared too.”

Donaldson says she saw JJ walking down the street and watched him. Seconds later he was at her doorstep. She jumped right into action.

“I just grabbed his hand and said ‘You’re OK, you’re safe, I got you,’” Donaldson said. “So we just started walking this way toward the school.”

According to the police report, JJ was left outside the gates of the playground, which is how he made it down the street. His father says he’s still looking for answers.

“I shouldn’t have to wait nine days after an incident in order to talk with someone who can make a type of decision, so I don’t feel comfortable sending my kid back to the city school district.”

News10NBC’s Stephanie Duprey reached out to the Rochester City School District for comment and did not immediately get a response. She went to Thursday’s school board business meeting and asked Interim Superintendent Carmine Peluso for a comment on the investigation.

Stephanie Duprey: “I have a question about the boy who was left outside School No. 39.”
Peluso: “No comment right now.”

RCSD released the following statement on Friday: “The Rochester City School District is aware of the situation concerning a student at School 39 that occurred last week. The school administration contacted the parent immediately and has been in communication with him throughout the past week. An investigation is underway.”

JJ’s dad says he has a meeting with the school safety department Friday morning. How JJ was left outside is still under investigation.