LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens (PIX11) – There are major changes in school security coming following the disappearance of a special needs student who has been missing for more than a month.
The last time anyone saw Avonte Oquendo, who is autistic and cannot communicate verbally, he was running through the halls and out the door of the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City. He disappeared on October 4th. Speaking on the John Gambling Radio Show Thursday, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the Department of Education is making major changes in the way they keep track of special needs students. “We are going to review and utilize a variety of different security measures including 2-way radios, video surveillance, and the public address system.” He went on to say,”And we are also identifying the potential use of additional security resources such as panic buttons.” Walcott says his prayers go out to Avonte’s family. The Department of Education is doing a comprehensive review of the case according to the Chancellor.
The police have investigated more than 600 tips in their search for the 14-year-old. But so far nothing has materialized. It’s hoped that the new measures including additional training will beef up security enough so cases like Avonte’s can be avoided. Walcott told Gambling, “We have a very rigorous protocol we are putting into place.”
The reward for information is at least $95,000. Embattled Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez has also met with the family and plans to lend his star power in an effort to keep the missing teen in the headlines.
Anyone with information about the teen is asked to contract the Crime Stoppers Tip line at 1-800-577-TIPS.