Each morning, as New York City parents send their children off to school, they expect that a child’s school environment is safe and secure. Sadly, this is not always the case and the tragic death of one 14-year-old boy roughly two years ago serves as a solemn reminder of what can happen when schools fail to take measures to ensure their premise is secure.
School security cameras captured the last-known images of the 14-year-old autistic boy named Avonte Oquendo as he left his school through an unlocked door. Months later, the boy’s body was found in the river as his mother struggled to make sense of how he was allowed to leave his school building and grounds without anyone noticing.
In an effort to ensure that other children and families don’t share a similar fate, Avonte’s Law was passed. Under Avonte’s Law the New York Department of Education is required to install door alarms at all of New York City’s schools by the end of the year.
A recent investigation by NBC 4 New York’s I-Team revealed that roughly 18,000 door alarms have been installed so far and officials are hopeful that the remaining 2,300 alarms will be installed by the end of October.
While Avonte’s mother is pleased with the city’s decision to pass Avonte’s Law and require the installation of the door alarms, she is still angry that city and school officials failed to take action to prevent the circumstances that lead to her son’s death. She has filed a lawsuit against the city and the case is scheduled to go to trial.
New York City parents who have concerns about the physical and environmental safety of a child’s school may choose to consult with an attorney. This is especially important in cases where a child suffered injury or death due to a school’s unsafe conditions.
Source: NBC 4 New York, “I-Team: Nearly 18K Door Alarms Installed at NYC Schools Under Avonte's Law,” Pei-Sze Cheng, Oct. 13, 2015