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Reprimand all Riverview School employees responsible for the negligence of Avonte Oquendo leading to his disappearance on October 4th, 2013 from Long Island City, NY.

This petition had 5,596 supporters


On October 4th 2013, Avonte Oquendo, a 14 year old, non-verbal male with severe autism was last seen on surveillance video walking out of the Riverview School on 51st Avenue in Long Island City, NY.

The school security guard first told investigators that she saw Avonte and asked him where he was going,” the sources said. “She said she let him go when he didn’t answer her.

School’s Delayed Response to Avonte’s Disappearance

The Department of Education occurrence report reads that at 12:37, Avonte ran past the main security desk, tried to get out of a side exit, then went by the security desk again. Avonte continued down the hallway and went out through the Center Boulevard exit door, which was open. Fontaine said the school security officer saw him walk through the open door.

Twenty minutes later, at 12:57, the assistant principal reported the student missing. It wasn't until 1:35 -- an hour after Avonte was last seen -- that his mother was called. Finally at 2 p.m., the NYPD was notified.

School security and administrators' immediate response to the disappearance of Avonte Oquendo from his Queens school on Oct. 4 appeared to be disorganized and confused, the boy's family's lawyer says, citing documents from an internal investigation by the Department of Education. 

Avonte Oquendo's family attorney David Perecman said he obtained an occurrence report from the DOE detailing the timeline of Oquendo's disappearance from Center Boulevard School, compiled during the internal investigation. 

According to the documents, 14-year-old Oquendo, who is non-verbal and autistic, had three adults watching his class on Oct. 4. The class was on its way to the computer lab when Oquendo slipped away.

Security cameras showed Avonte walking to the first floor at 12:37 p.m., the documents say. The boy walked by the main security desk twice before leaving the building through the Center Boulevard exit door, which had been left ajar.

At 12:41 p.m., a school safety agent went to the same exit and closed the door shut.

Oquendo's teachers noticed he was missing at 12:40 p.m., and at 12:56 p.m., they notified the assistant principal, according to the documents. When the assistant principal asked the safety agent to sweep the outside perimeter of the school, the safety agent told her that she did not see Oquendo walk out back, and that she saw him "run up the stairs."

The safety agent's statement would be contradicted by security video that captured Oquendo leaving the school.

News 4's I-Team Investigation of Security

Six weeks after Avonte Oquendo walked out of his school without anyone stopping him; News 4's I-Team investigated security at 10 New York City schools and STILL found alarming holes in the system. Unfortunately, the I-Team reporter was able to walk into a total of seven schools without being stopped or asked for identification.

At the Riverview School, where 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo was last seen before he vanished on Oct. 4, an I-Team reporter was also easily able to walk past security, and went to every floor in the school.

Afterwards the guard asks the I-Team reporter "Are you visiting?" 

The Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott watched the I-Team's video and said the Department of Education needed to work with the NYPD to review security.

Conclusion

As a result of the findings above, it’s painfully obvious that school security is still not a priority even after Avonte’s disappearance. Therefore, we, the parents and petitioners are asking that all faculty, staff, contract employees and temps who fail to protect children in any way from the dangers that Avonte faced will not only be dismissed,  but charged with negligence, and barred from working with children ever again through certificate/license revocation.  These types of tragedies SHOULD NEVER happen as parents put their trust in the school system to protect their children as they learn.

Consequently, due to the negligence of the staff at the Riverview School in Long Island City, NY and the security guard, who is supposed to be one of the last but most important barriers of security at the school has failed to prevent Avonte Oquendo from leaving the center.

Since that fateful day in October 2013, the 14-year old Avonte Oquendo with severe autism was missing for almost 4 months and is now confirmed deceased by DNA results released on January 21, 2014.

 

References

Report: School Botched Security In Teen’s Disappearance | www.qgazette.com | Queens Gazette. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.qgazette.com/news/2014-01-01/Features/Report_School_Botched_Security_In_Teens_Disappeara.html

 

School's Response to Avonte Oquendo's Disappearance Was Delayed, Disorganized, Attorney Says | NBC New York. (n.d.).Retrieved from http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Avonte-Oquendo-Disappearance-School-Queens-Department-of-Education-Investigation-237631401.html

 

I-Team Investigates School Security, Walks Freely Into 7 Out of 10 Schools | NBC New York. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/School-Security-I-Team-NYPD-Avonte-Oquendo-232355951.html

 

Body Parts Found in East River Matched to Missing Teen Avonte Oquendo | NBC New York. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Body-Parts-Found-in-East-River-Matched-to-Missing-Teen-Avonte-Oquendo-241322861.html



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