NEWBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The starvation death of a 7-year-old boy has led to murder charges, and now a likely inquiry into why the system designed to protect him apparently failed.
Peter Cuacuas weighed just 37 pounds when he died on Feb. 10.
His main caregiver, Felicia Bravo, has been charged, along with her boyfriend, the boy’s father.
The cruelty allegedly began in January, when the boy stopped joining remote learning classes at his school.
Peter was in a second grade special education class. CBS2 has confirmed an inquiry will review how the district handled his absences, whether warning signs were missed or mishandled, and if the pandemic complicated efforts to safeguard him.
Newburgh police said there was concern about Peter at Temple Hill Academy, and why he was not participating in remote learning.
Police Commissioner Jose Gomerez spoke on Friday.
“Peter never logged into virtual school despite numerous conversations between Bravo and Peter’s teachers and others represented,” Gomerez said.
Residents are anxious to learn what action schools took to check on Peter’s welfare, as he allegedly starved to death at Bravo’s home.
“Justice needs to be served for him. It’s just so sad what happened. It’s inexcusable,” parent Amanda Marshall said.
“Somebody should be held liable for that,” parent Mike Carter added.
State lawmakers are also following the case. A spokeswoman told Aiello that Sen. James Skoufis, “feels very strongly anybody involved in this child’s death needs to be held accountable. It it happens to include school officials, so be it.”
The district promised in February to provide information to those investigating the boy’s tragic death.
There is precedent for the Orange County DA to investigate Newburgh Schools. Two years ago, he issued a grand jury report on ineligible student-athletes competing for the local high school.
Orange County Assemblyman Colin Schmitt supports an inquiry, according to his chief of staff.
“The community continues to be devastated by the loss of Peter,” said Taylor Weyeneth. “Beyond the rightful justice that must be brought against his murderers, the assemblyman strongly believes a full investigation is needed to uncover how a school aged child could be starved to death and how to ensure this never happens again.”