New York City school security lapse allows autistic boy to leave

Parents send their children to school trusting that the kids will return home safe and sound at the end of the day. School safety and security officials play an important role in controlling entrance and exit points in buildings in order to make sure only authorized visitors are allowed in and students don’t leave the campus unnecessarily.

Issues of negligent security are involved in the case of a 14-year-old New York boy who has been missing since he left his school in October 2013. The boy, who has autism and is non-verbal, has not turned up since he went missing. Efforts to locate him are still ongoing.

According to a report released by the Queens school, security guards allowed him to slip out the door. While the student was moving with his class down the school’s hallway, he ran off and past the security desk. He eventually managed to exit a door that was left open.

After the boy was reported missing, school security officials apparently made conflicting statements about what happened. Whatever the case, it seems as though school staff should have been more attentive to what was happening. Knowing that the student has special needs should have been of particular concern to them.

As a result of this incident, the teen’s parents have filed a claim against the city.

Of course, there’s no indication whether or not the boy in this case has suffered physical injury as a result of his escape. Still, this is an important reminder of the duty schools owe to parents and students. No one should have to worry that their child will be able to escape school as the result of insufficient security.

Source: New York Daily News, “Avonte Oquendo, missing Queens autistic teen, slipped past school security desk: lawyer,” Ben Chapman, Dec. 27, 2013