Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday signed legislation requiring the Department of Education to evaluate the need for door alarms on exterior doors at elementary schools and District 75 schools serving students with special needs.
Known as ‘Avonte’s Law’ because it was introduced by Bed-Stuy City Councilman Robert Cornegy in response to the tragic death of Avonte Oquendo after the 14-year-old autistic boy left school undetected.
Cornegy’s original proposal had more teeth in that it would have required alarms on all elementary and District 75 schools. But after the mayor hedged on the idea, the Bed-Stuy politician had to fight to get any kind of proposal on the issue out of the City Council and onto the mayor’s desk – thus proving the adage that politics is the art of compromise.
“With the Mayor’s signature today, the bill goes into effect and the process of evaluating buildings throughout the system can begin,” said Cornegy. “This is the right way to respond to the tragedy of Avonte’s loss—with action, to mitigate the risk of unalarmed doors for all children, whether they have special needs or are merely precocious and unaware of the risks they might face if they slip out a school door.”
Public Advocate Letitia James said children with disabilities need and deserve the highest level of protection and care.
“I thank Council Member Robert Cornegy for his amazingly leadership on this issue, and I thank Mayor de Blasio for signing this bill into law today,” said James.