Avonte Oquendo’s mom suing city to release investigation records

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Vanessa Fontaine, Avonte’s mother, has filed a lawsuit against the city requesting the release of documents in her son’s disappearance.

NEW YORK (PIX11) — The mother of Avonte Oquendo is suing the city to release investigation records in her son’s disappearance from his Long Island City school.

Vanessa Fontaine filed the suit in Manhattan Supreme Court Wednesday, demanding the NYPD release of internal documents into how Avonte was able to run out of his school and seemingly vanish without a trace.

Avonte was last seen on surveillance video running from the school through an unlocked door last October. The initial investigation found the school waited 45 to an hour after Avonte vanished before contacting his mother or the police.

Body parts, identified as Avonte’s, were found washed up in College Point last week, 11 miles from where he was last seen.

Fontaine’s original Freedom of Information request was denied, with the Department of Education saying the release would interfere with the investigation and could potentially be an “invasion of privacy” and “endanger the life or safety” of a person.

“All that is sought is information about how Avonte came to be outside of his school unattended. Such information does not give rise to any legitimate concern about the privacy of Avonte,” family attorney David Perecman said.

Perecman told PIX11 Tuesday he believes there is more surveillance video highlighting the school’s negligence that have not been released.
A larger civil lawsuit against the city is expected to be filed in Avonte’s death.
In response to the suit, a city Law Department spokesperson told PIX11, “This involves a terrible tragedy, and the City’s thoughts are with Avonte’s family. We will review the legal case thoroughly once received.”


  • SKIP

    Margaret Mikol, the co-Founder of a NYC non profit that helps disabled children, is looking for comments about how we should better protect special needs children and prevent another such tragedy from happening. Check out her reaction and share your thoughts here https://www.facebook.com/SkipNY

  • Bob

    I am sorry for their loss but suing the city and everyone else is wrong. This is nothing more than a money grab by the family which is absolutely disgusting.

    • Nicole

      Really?!? They are not suing for money! They are suing to have the records released to them. Do they not have a right to know how their child just walked out of the school?!? Someone needs to be held accountable! Had it been your loved one I'm sure you'd have a different outlook.

      • sindilouwho

        You can't fix stupid, Nicole. That school needs to be held accountable. The country is more interested in Justin friggin Bieber.

    • Madame Bonjour

      Well, Bob, re-read the headline and the article. This grieving mother is suing the city to release their investigative records of the incident. Financial compensation is not mentioned.

      • Madame Dumbjour

        Why don't you re-read the article genius.

        "A larger civil lawsuit against the city is expected to be field in Avonte’s death."

      • Madame Bonjour

        Wow, I am honored by your name choice! Also, I am amazed and overwhelmed by your intellectual and mature response. Cheers!

  • Denise

    Everyone get fired.The guard should stop him from getting out the school.you send your child to school and always thinking, that would the safest place for your child.this city worries more about terrorist then the safety of our children.

  • big gene

    exterior school doors must be easily openable from inside the building in case of fires, schools are not prisons and you can not lock children in

  • Julia Howerin

    I think some of the responses on here are just plain ignorant. I would sue to. Period. negligence all the way around. and the response that was given to not release the video–is ridiculous. These are the parents of the child in the video. If they want it they should get it–they are the ones who would be in jeopardy of the tapes being detrimental to the person in question when that person was non-verbal and is no longer here because of that negligence. More needs to be done in this country for individuals with autism..The public school system is not equipped to handle them and there doesn't seem to be a concern to provide facilities that are unless some governors child has it and then its a big deal.. Check the stats–1 in 50 children are diagnosed with this and the numbers are growing It shouldn't come down to a case like this for people to wake up and do something.

  • False Rastah

    Sounds like a preventable tragedy. There is not enough information in the article for me to offer an opinion other than my opening statement. First and foremost the school system does have an obligation to protect children and when there is a breakdown in policy the school should offer any and all information in an effort to prevent any future incidence's like this from occurring. The highly litigious society we live in today make everyone go on the defensive first instead of immediately cooperating for fear of large monetary settlements. Mistakes can and will be made, we should all do what we can to prevent them, not just "make someone pay". It is such a shame.

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