NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday signed a bill calling for the evaluation of the need for audible alarms on public school building doors, in commemoration of the Avonte Oquendo tragedy.
The 14-year-old autistic boy was last spotted on surveillance video leaving the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City, Queens on Oct. 4. His body was found three months later along the East River in College Point.
Avonte was severely autistic and unable to speak.
“The whole city felt the pain of his loss,” Mayor de Blasio said Thursday.
The law has been watered down since it was first proposed, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported. Rather than simply requiring alarms to be installed on outside doors at all schools, it requires the Department of Education to evaluate the need for them and install them where it has deemed them necessary.
The schools to be evaluated include elementary and District 75 schools serving students with special needs, the mayor’s office said. The evaluation must be completed by May 30 of next year, and the DOE must submit a report to the City Council with a timeline for alarm installation.
As Lamb reported, Avonte’s mother said the measure does not answer her family’s questions, but she declared she’s happy with it.
“Every parent in this city felt the urgency and fear as we searched week after week for Avonte. Every one of us felt the pain of his loss. And every one of us is committed to making sure our schools have the tools they need to keep our children safe. This legislation will protect other children from tragedy,” Mayor de Blasio said in a news release.
In June, Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city in Queens Supreme Court. It accuses the city, the Department of Education, NYPD and numerous individuals of negligence for allowing Avonte to leave the school.
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