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The Call Blog: City Council Considers "Avonte's Law"

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I believe that these audible alarms are necessary in public schools housing District 75 programs and elementary school students. As was illustrated in Avonte Oquendo's case, he was not stopped by the security guard who last saw him before he exited the building.
As many of our callers pointed out, teachers, staff, and school safety agents should be vigilant in making sure students are where they are supposed to be -- however, these alarms would be the safety net if an incident like Avonte's was to be repeated.

Your thoughts and comments are posted below.



After 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo ran out of his Long Island City school and went missing last year, parents of students with disabilities have been asking for more safety measures from the Department of Education. Today, City Council lawmakers finally debated a bill that would require all elementary and special needs schools to have alarms on all exterior doors.

Since Avonte's disappearance in October, at least eight children have walked out of their schools unattended. Supporters of the bill say the alarms cost $160 each, and installing them would cost no more than $1.5 million tax dollars. But skeptics, including the Department of Education, say individual principals should continue to decide the best way to protect their students. What do you say?

Should the Department of Education install audible alarms on the exterior doors of buildings with the most vulnerable students? Do you agree with the DOE that there is no "one size fits all" solution to securing buildings? How easily can someone enter and exit your school undetected?

Send your thoughts using the link above.



Why was this not taken care of long before this incident? Even knowing the situation with these special children are they saying that every exit and all other doors were completely left open for anyone to go in and out. The responsibility should be the fault of the employees that work there. I do remember that it took the school an hour to report this boy missing. Sad to say in my opinion only is that the answer is behind the closed doors of the school that he attended. Another sad and touchy subject !!!

Maxxiee
Morris Park



The city council should make Avonte's law because it's better to be safe than sorry, no one want what happened to Avante to happen to another student the price shouldn't matter when it comes to saving a life. the DOE should install alarms on all school doors so someone can catch the students that are leaving without permission.

Herman
Upper West Side



I really can't believe this has turned into a debate. I pay taxes and I don't care what the bottom dollar will be. Alarms should be a MANDITORY installation, and whatever else needs to be done to prevent the unspeakable from happening to any other child. NO MORE TEARS!! With eight children succeeded in walking out the door undetected, EVERYONE should be outraged, regardless if he/she has children or not!!!!

Nowal
Financial District



The solution is to put power in the hands of the parents, and out of low grade government employees who exist on kickbacks. Getting the government--and unions-- out of schooling would solve a lot of problems.

Joe
Port Richmond



MY WIFE AND I POSTED POSTERS ON STATEN ISLAND ON BEHALF OF THIS BEAUTIFUL BOY AND HIS FAMILY. WHY IS IT THE CITY COUNCIL CAN WRITE LAW ABOUT AIR CONDITIONING ESCAPING FROM OPEN DOORS OF SHOPS, AND HAVE DIFFICULTY ABOUT GOOD LAW PROTECTING THOSE THAT CAN'T PROTECT THEMSELVES?
SPECIAL NEEDS NEED SPECIAL SECURITY. TO DO NOTHING MEANS NOTHING GETS DONE.

Joe
Bay Terrace



A swipe card access and exit would be better. If the card is not swiped an alarm should sound.

Anonymous



They need to hire more paras....in special needs schools more crisis intervention team members.

Tahir



All NYC students should be protected and secured in some way from leaving schools unnoticed -- whether using high-tech and/or low-tech solutions. Moreover,all city schools should be protected from crazy people entering, so we don't have another Sandy Hook nightmare in NYC. With 74 more school shootings nationwide since Sandy Hook, this should also be high on the agenda.

Gretchen
Upper West Side



Thank you for your brilliance and service. My name is William from Washington Heights. Why exactly does the D.O.E. not want to support the installation of alarms? Perhaps, I missed a key piece of information. It seems like the D.O.E. and the teachers' union are defensive. An additional measure that should be taken in schools should be the addition of armed guards in my opinion, given the endemic events of school shootings. Alarms are appropriate. Although lack of discipline is a problem in schools, kids are slick and will work their way around other efforts; an alarm works as a final alert for the appropriate personnel to possibly prevent another Avante tragedy.

Anonymous



Remember Beslan in Russia and the massacre of over 300 schools and teachers by terrorists a few years ago? How about columbine high school and the must recent shooting at a middle school out west. My greatest fear as a public school teacher is our safety officers been overwhelmed by some crazy shooter. FEMA and Home land security funding could be used to beef up our school building and counter violence training for safety officers.

Obed
Washington Heights



Seems the main concern is the cost, if what they are worried about is the 1.5 million out of their pocket, ask every NYC elementary public school parent to send in one ($1) dollar each and I'm sure the money will speak for itself that YES! Our children are worth the extra alert of security. It may not stop the kids from walking out, but it's never "too late"

Anonymous



Too little attention has been paid to the fact that Avonte walked out right under the nose of a security guard. The guard saw Avonte running out but didn't check up on him, then found an open exit door and didn't put two and two together. This person was charged with making sure no kids left the building unauthorized, and failed miserably. Forget alarms, motion detectors and other such nonsense. We need people who will actually do the job of supervising our kids, instead of the disinterested, complacent staff who set this tragedy in motion.

Adam
Midwood



Just lock all the doors during school hours. Keep the main door open for parents to enter or exit same goes for teachers. When final bell rings open all doors to let students leave.

Frankie
Dyker Heights



I have taught for 15 years. Starting this year, parents with special need students can place their student in less restrictive settings. I am there to teach my 25 kids, not chase the 2 students that are having a difficult time in the setting I teach. We are dealing with children in crisis. My principal frowns upon calling school safety during the incidents because the state will deem us a dangerous school if safety is called too frequently. I feel like I'm running a circus show and totally on my own. The entire system needs to be fixed.

Lisa
Cobble Hill



I vote yes to anything that will make my children safer in school. The board of education needs to start firing people. There is so much staff in a school but everyone's explanation to something going wrong is "it's not my job to do this or that" Furthermore, why does the schools let the kids walk around freely. They should keep the kids in one class and let the teachers come to the student's class.

Junie
Elmhurst


The best way to stop kids from leaving schools and saving money. During school hours all doors should be closed the only doors allowed to be open are the main entrance. When school is close to being over send the school safety people to remove the door locks. This was done in my Jhs when I was a kid. It prevented kids from cutting classes and it worked.
After each period ends have the safety agents walk the floors looking for kids that are roaming halls and make sure they are put back in class or taken to deans office. We don't need cameras or alarms lock doors and have safety agents walk the floors looking for students roaming halls..

Anonymous

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