Avonte Oquendo’s mother warned teacher he was a ‘runner’: Report

Avonte Oquendo’s mother warned his teacher that the 14-year-old autistic boy was a “runner” and to keep an eye on him at all times, a new report revealed Thursday.
Credit: Bess Adler

Avonte Oquendo’s mother warned his teacher that the 14-year-old autistic boy was a “runner” and to keep an eye on him at all times, a new report revealed Thursday.

Vanessa Fontaine, Oquendo’s mother, wrote the note to the boy’s teacher, Julie Murray. Murray also had Fontaine fill out a form, in which the mother again warned Murray.

“Safety concerns – Please make sure you keep an eye out he likes to run,” Fontaine wrote on the form, which Murray sent to parents without the school’s knowing. “Need 1-1 supervisor will leave the building.”

The 12-page report by the Department of Education’s special commissioner of investigation found that the school administrators at Oquendo’s school were never alerted to the form or or the note.

As a result, Oquendo never received the attention his mother asked his teacher for before he disappeared from his Long Island City school on Oct. 4.

Oquendo’s disappearance set off three months of searching and speculation across New York City before his remains were found on along the East River.

The Riverview School for special education students, the which Oquendo recently began attending, shared a building with a middle school and a high school. The high school’s principal Edgar Rodriguez also served as the entire building principal.

Despite requests from Oquendo’s assistant principal, the report confirmed Rodriguez did not have immediate access to the building’s security footage nor did he implement a “soft lockdown.”

Rodriguez told investigators that he had deployed staff throughout the five-story building, but did not want to “alarm the students in his school,” the report said.

Security footage eventually showed Oquendo leaving the school cafeteria unattended and exiting the building through door left open near the school’s bus zone. A school worker closed it minutes later.

The report said the last footage of the boy showed him “running out of the building, down the block, and across the street, eventually out of sight.”

Oquendo’s remains were found three months later washed ashore.

The report was relayed to both New York City schools Chancellor  Carmen Fariña and Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


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