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Parents, Councilmen Advocate Plan To Keep Kids From Running Out Of School

Avonte Oquendo: New Video

New video shows an adult exiting a school building and leaving the door open before autistic teen Avonte Oquendo runs out. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The City Council on Wednesday discussed a proposal to keep children from walking away from their schools unnoticed.

The bill would require audible alarms on all doors at elementary and special education schools across New York City. Supporters, including many parents, said the measure would keep schools safer.

The parents pointed to more than half a dozen cases of children who have slipped away from their schools, including autistic teen Avonte Oquendo last October.

Avonte, 14, vanished from his public school in Long Island City, Queens last October, and was found dead offshore from College Point in January.

Avonte slipped out a side door undetected at his school in October. Since then, at least seven other students – some as young as 4 years old – have walked out of their school buildings.

Parents on Wednesday told CBS 2 the bill requiring alarms is an obvious choice.

“We figured that this would be a no-brainer — especially for special needs children,” said Sam Pirozzolo of the New York City Parents’ Union. “The special needs advocates are all in favor of this.”

“Some bills upon their being passed is a victory. For us, the passing of the bill is only the first step,” said City Councilman Robert Cornegy (D-36th.) “We have to then get the alarms in place for this to be a complete package.”

City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said the Department of Education is open to the idea, but has concerns about the costs.

Installing audible alarms could run an estimated $1.5 million.

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