NYC Schools to Get 21000 Alarms After Autistic Boy’s Escape, Death

New York City is installing 21,000 audible door alarms at public schools in order to prevent tragedies in future like the one happened in 2013 which marked the disappearance of an autistic student and died.
In addition to this, principals, teachers and school safety staff will also receive additional training to manage students during intermediate periods like recess (lunchtime), as this is the time when the students can slip out unseen.

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“Schools will all have security and be safe for our students,” said Ms. Elizabeth Rose, the deputy schools chancellor.

A Fourteen-year-old mute autistic child, Avonte Oquendo, walked away from his Queens school and was found dead in a river months later. A report was released in March 2014 by the special commissioner of investigation for city schools exposed that several errors led to the child’s death. The report described how the teen broke away from his classmates after lunch.

In response to Avonte’s death and some other similar cases involving students disappearing from schools, the City Council members passed a bill known as Avonte’s Law last year that asked the Department of Education to survey all schools to evaluate the need for additional safety equipment, including audible alarms.

Ms. Rose said all the schools were surveyed and over 97% of them requested the door alarms. The remaining schools either already had the alarms or lease space in buildings with security systems.
Council members joined parent advocates and education officials at a news conference to celebrate the city’s progress in implementing the law.

“This rate of change in a system as big as ours is commendable,” said Council member Robert Corneghy Jr. of Brooklyn, who sponsored the legislation.

An Organizer with the group StudentsFirstNY and the mother of a graduated autistic boy, said parent advocacy was the key.

“When it comes to the safety of our children, moms and dads like me won’t take no for an answer,” she said.

Really, this seems to be a great step for the security and safety of the autistic children.

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