A Toronto high school didn't tell the family of a 14-year-old boy at the centre of an Amber Alert that he was absent from classes on Wednesday until that evening because his teachers missed a deadline, the Toronto District School Board said.
Police have said Shammah Jolayemi was heard screaming for help as he was forced into a Jeep at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday -- before classes even began -- but TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird said Thursday the boy's family didn't learn about his absence until after 6 p.m.
Bird said four staff members at Newtonbrook Secondary School have been put on "home assignment" because their attendance data wasn't submitted before an 11 a.m. deadline.
"We're looking to confirm details right now, but what is clear is that attendance was not entered as it should have been," Bird said.
Police issued an Amber Alert nearly 16 hours after Shammah was last seen, noting they were "extremely concerned" for his safety.
"A 14-year-old boy was observed to be screaming, 'Help me! Help me!' and to be forced into a black Jeep Wrangler by two males," Insp. Jim Gotell told a news conference early Thursday.
"We do believe that the person being forced into that vehicle is the 14-year-old that is currently missing. We do believe that he has been abducted, and we are asking for the assistance of the public."
Shammah was last seen in the area of Jane Street and Driftwood Avenue in northwestern Toronto.
Police said they were looking for two men, between 18 and 22 years old, who were wearing bandanas and black jackets. Officers were also looking for the Jeep, which they said had oversized front tires and a front push bar with round fog lights.
Ontario Amber Alert in effect. ^jt pic.twitter.com/zWYOGKWnEc— AMBER Alert Ontario (@AMBERAlertONT) March 5, 2020
Investigators also said they want to speak to the boy's stepbrother, Olalekan Osikoya, but gave no further details.
News of Shammah's disappearance came as a shock to Rita Smith, who helps run an entrepreneurship program for local high school students in which the teen has been participating since October.
Smith described Shammah as an outstanding participant who never misses a class and always asks "the best questions." He is involved with other activities too, she said, including violin lessons and French immersion studies at Newtonbrook.
"He stood out in our class like a gem," Smith said.
Shammah is described as about six feet tall, with a slim build. He was wearing a grey hoodie, grey track pants with a thin orange stripe, shiny black puffy coat, and black and yellow Air Jordan shoes.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2020.