Family of missing autistic Queens boy to sue city

Avonte Oquendo, missing from Long Island City since midday Friday, Oct. 4. Credit: NYPD
Avonte Oquendo went missing from Long Island City midday Friday, Oct. 4.
Credit: NYPD

The family of an autistic boy who went missing from his school in Long Island City almost a full week ago is suing the city.

Avonte Oquendo, 14, was apparently caught on video camera leaving his school around 12:40 p.m. on Oct. 4. School staff noticed he was missing shortly after that when they were rounding up kids in the cafeteria to go back to class after lunch. There had been a fight between other students in the cafeteria, and it seemed that in the melée, Oquendo had been able to wander off unnoticed.

But the family’s lawyer, David Perecman, said Oquendo’s mother wasn’t called by the school until 1:40 p.m.

Moreover, he said, a school security guard later told Oquendo’s grandmother that she saw Oquendo leaving.

The guard reportedly confronted Oquendo, who is non-verbal. When she asked him where he was going and he didn’t answer, she let him go.

Oquendo’s school is a mix of special needs and mainstream students, and the guard reportedly told the grandmother she had assumed Oquendo was mainstream.

“We think the system makes no sense,” Perecman said, incredulous that a security guard standing at an exit would allow a “14-year-old with the brain capacity of a 7-year-old, who can’t speak” to just leave the school.

“Also,” Perecman added, “there’s the question of: What happened with this hour?”

Perecman said Oquendo’s mother arrived at the school about an hour after she was called, so at that point Oquendo had ostensibly been off the premises for about two hours. And yet she found school staff had spent all that time looking for Oquendo inside the school, even though the school security agent later told the boy’s grandmother that she had seen him leave.

Perecman said he doesn’t know when school officials first reviewed the security tape that showed Oquendo leaving the premises, but that his mother remembers it being shown to her.

The school also had Oquendo’s mother make an announcement over the P.A. system when she arrived.

“As if he still might be in school,” Perecman said in disbelief.

Oquendo is in the ninth grade at Center Boulevard School in Long Island City. He learns in classroom settings with five other special needs students, an instructor and a parent, Perecman said.

Perecman filed a notice of claim with the comptroller’s office Thursday, the first step in proceeding with a possible lawsuit.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Local

Video: Car crashes into Cambridge store, man arrested…

A Cambridge man was arrested on gun and drug charges after crashing his car into a Massachusetts Avenue storefront early Saturday morning.

Local

Body found believed to be missing Fitchburg boy…

The body of a child found off of a highway in Sterling last week is likely that of missing Fitchburg boy Jeremiah Oliver, authorities said.

Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Books

Poems from prison: 'How to Survive a Bullet…

Celebrate National Poetry Month with, "'How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.