District 36

Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.

Bedford Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights

Sponsor of “Avonte’s Law” Responds to Incident of Student Wandering from P.S. 11

NEW YORK, NY – NYC Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. (D-36), prime sponsor of “Avonte’s Law” (Local Law 36 of 2014), which requires audible alarms on the exterior doors of all NYC Department of Education school buildings, released the following statement today regarding the wandering of a Kindergarten student from P.S. 11 in Manhattan on Thursday:

“I was alarmed to learn that 5-year-old Synciere Deckard had wandered from his school in Chelsea and onto a nearby subway platform this past Thursday. The incident was a painful reminder of the case of Avonte Oquendo, a young autistic boy who wandered out of his school in Long Island City in late 2013 and was found dead months later. It was also a reminder of the profound trust parents place in the Department of Education to keep their children safe while they are at school, and the importance of DOE respecting the laws on the books intended to keep our children safe.

“My first act as a member of the New York City Council was to pass ‘Avonte’s Law’ (Local Law 36 of 2014), mandating the installation of alarms on the exterior doors of all DOE school buildings, to ensure no tragedy like that of Avonte Oquendo would ever befall a New York City family again. After learning of Thursday’s incident, I reached out to DOE, who informed me P.S. 11 was in compliance with Local Law 36, and that the doors are ‘on lockdown from 11:30AM–1:30PM everyday.’

“The installation of door alarms was meant to prevent students wandering from school buildings. If DOE schools are not using the alarms for all hours of the day that school buildings are occupied by students, then they are not following the intent of ‘Avonte’s Law’ and are willingly putting the lives of NYC school children at risk. While I understand the incident is still under investigation, we must demand answers from DOE as to why this incident was not caught immediately by the use of door alarms, and what can be done to ensure future incidents like these are prevented by the use of door alarms, as intended by Local Law 36.”