DOE Seeks To Beef Up Security After Avonte

BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
Staff Writer

More than six weeks after the disappearance of 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo, the Dept. of Education is looking to beef up its security in order to prevent a similar incident from happening.

According to an emailed statement from Marge Feinberg, a spokesperson for the DOE, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has ordered his staff to conduct an immediate and comprehensive review of current safety protocols and procedures for emergency preparedness.

David Perecman, the Oquendo family’s attorney, said they have already filed a “notice of claim” with the City – the first step in filing a $25 million lawsuit.

The New York City Special Commission of Investigations is investigating how Avonte was able to leave the school without being stopped by a teacher or school official and although police have scaled back their efforts, the NYPD continues to search for the missing teen.

As part of their plan, the DOE announced that it will enhance training provided for new Building Response Teams members and principals.

Similarly, the Department is looking to enhance training for school safety agents, with a heavy focus on safety officials that work with special needs children.

The DOE is strengthening its safety and emergency readiness at all schools, including newly constructed schools, by reviewing how to best utilize security resources like two-way radios, video surveillance and PA systems. The Department is also looking into the possibility of panic buttons, which are already present at a few NYC schools.

Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 123 or nkozikowska@queenspress.com or @nkozikowska.