The Department of Education, which voiced opposition to the idea of installing alarms on all public school doors, will be required by Avonte's Law to collaborate with the New York City Police Department to evaluate which schools might eventually require alarms and security training. Credit: Bess Adler/Metro
Months after it was introduced, the New York City Council unanimously passed a bill in honor of teen Avonte Oquendo to prevent the circumstances that led to his untimely death.
The Department of Education, which voiced opposition to the idea of installing alarms on all public school doors, will be required to collaborate with the New York City Police Department to evaluate which schools might eventually require alarms and security training.
The report is due to the Council by May 30, 2015, but the bill turns into law as soon as Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is currently in Italy on vacation, signs off.
"I'm going to rely on DoE's commitment to complete these tasks as soon as possible," said bill sponsor and Brooklyn Councilman Robert Cornegy.
The bill is seen by some as a watered down commitment to improved security in schools after the 14-year-old autistic Oquendo walked out of his Queens school after a door was left ajar.
After Oquendo's remains were recovered along the East River months later, political and community leaders joined with Oquendo's family to demand the Department of Education reform security measures at schools citywide.
The DoE was did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In March, Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm said it would cost $9 million to install alarms in every schools.
“For a large and diverse school system such as ours there is no one-size-fits-all response that will prevent a student leaving a building without permission,” Grimm said at the time.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito seemed to agree earlier Thursday and pushed back on alleged expectations of the bill.
"The intent of the bill was aways to a thorough evaluation of public school buildings," Mark-Viverito said.
"It's not about requiring alarms," she added. "It's about assessing the needs."