PARENTING
01/29/2015 06:12 pm ET Updated Jan 29, 2015

Family Outraged After Girl With Autism Leaves School In Middle Of Day Unsupervised

A Florida mother is outraged after her 6-year-old daughter showed up at her door in the middle of a school day on Monday. Zoe Maglio, who has been diagnosed with autism, left her school and walked about half a mile to her house in the Miami suburbs without adult supervision.

"We get a knock at the door and my sister-in-law saw Zoe standing there alone. No adult, nobody was there," Zoe's mother, Danielle Maglio, told CBS Miami.

Zoe walked out of Everglades K-8 Center and was assisted across the street by a campus security guard, CBS reports. She reportedly told the guard that she was not feeling well.

After Zoe got home, her aunt went to the school and found school personnel driving around the neighborhood looking for Zoe, but the school had not contacted the family to tell them she was missing, according to Local 10.

For now, the Maglios are keeping Zoe enrolled at the school, but demanding that an assistant be with Zoe at all times when she is on campus. They are considering legal action, CBS reports.

The school district has apologized to the family and fired the security guard who let Zoe leave.

"Miami-Dade County Public Schools has strict guidelines in place to ensure student safety," the district said in a statement obtained by The Huffington Post. "Today, there was a breach of protocol by a school employee who did not follow those guidelines. The employee has been terminated and will not be rehired."

Zoe was diagnosed with autism last fall. A 2012 study by Autism Speaks found that nearly half of children with autism wander -- defined in the study as leaving a supervised, safe space and thus "exposing him or herself to potential danger."

When children with autism wander, they may not recognize potential dangers. "In some cases they can’t communicate that they’re lost or in trouble," Lisa Goring, executive vice president of programs and services at Autism Speaks, told HuffPost.

Goring said parents of children with autism and a history of wandering should tell the child's school about it and ensure it is noted in the child's Individualized Education Program. "That way the entire school staff can meet and understand the program and put a plan in place," she said.

Last January, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) proposed "Avonte's law," federal legislation that would provide tracking devices for children with autism. The bill was named for Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old boy with autism who walked out of his school in Long Island City, New York, and was found dead three months later. The 2014 bill never moved out of committee, but Schumer reintroduced legislation this month in the new Congress.

However, a different law named after Avonte was signed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in August. The law calls for the city's Department of Education to install audible alarms on the doors of public school buildings that serve special-needs students where it is determined they are needed.

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