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Queens Chronicle

Report on Avonte Oquendo investigation released

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Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 5:35 pm | Updated: 6:04 pm, Tue Apr 1, 2014.

The special commissioner of investigation for the New York City School District released a report today detailing the agency’s investigation of the disappearance of Avonte Oquendo.

Oquendo, a 14-year-old mute boy with autism, ran out of the Riverview School in Long Island City on Oct. 4, 2013 and was never seen again. In January, his remains washed ashore in College Point.

According to the investigation, Oquendo’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, submitted a form to Oquendo’s teacher letting her know of his tendency to flee.

“Safety concerns — Please make sure you keep an eye out, he likes to run,” Fontaine wrote. “Need 1 to 1 supervisor, will leave the building.”

The information was never passed on to the school’s administration. It was also reported that the form Fontaine filled out, which Oquendo’s teacher had sent home, had not been approved by the principal, which goes against protocol.

Details of the video footage released in October were also shared in the report. According to the SCI, Oquendo ran past a school safety officer — assigned to the school’s lobby — and she tried to get the boy’s attention by calling out “excuse me.” In the video, the view of the officer was obstructed for “safety reasons” but Oquendo does appear to turn around when the officer called him. He then turned back around and bolted down the hallway.

When administration was informed that Oquendo was missing, the officer told the assistant principal that she witnessed him running around the building and believed he had gone upstairs.

The school safety officer was unable to chase after Oquendo because she was assisting a parent and child at the front desk.

The report has been submitted to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who will determine if disciplinary actions or further investigation are necessary.  

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