In wake of Avonte Oquendo disappearance, DOE reviews safety procedures

Family and police continue the search for 14 year-old missing child, Missing child, Avonte Oquendo.
Avonte Oquendo, who cannot communicate verbally, was last seen walking out of his school on Oct. 4. Credit: Bess Adler

The city’s Department of Education is implementing changes to safety protocols in response to the disappearance of an autistic teenager from his Long Island City school last month.

“I informed our principals that we have a number of procedures that we’re going to be putting in place and to address issues specific to District 75 students, our special needs students,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott on WOR Radio’s “The John Gambling Show” on Thursday.

“We’re going to review and utilize a variety of different security measures, including two-way radios, video surveillance and public address systems,” he said.

The department is also exploring the potential use of additional security features such as panic buttons.

In addition, the DOE and NYPD will provide training to school safety agents to deal with special needs students.

The announcement comes six weeks after 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo went missing. The teen, who cannot communicate verbally, was last seen walking out of the Riverview School, also reported as the Center Boulevard School, on Oct. 4. A highly publicized citywide search for the teen has not resulted in any sightings.

“My heart and prayers go out to Avonte’s family,” Walcott said on Thursday, adding that the city is still doing everything possible to find him.


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