QUEENS (PIX11) - “Who’s watching these children in school,” asked Vanessa Fontaine, the mother of Avonte Oquendo.
A city investigation into the fateful disappearance of Avonte Oquendo reveals that a security guard assigned to the front of his school saw the boy running through the halls and called out to him, but wasn’t able to follow him because she was the only one assigned to the post.
Further, it reveals that Avonte’s mother warned the school that the boy, who had nonverbal autism, had a tendency to run and needed to be monitored constantly. A form she filled out alerting the school was apparently ignored.
“This is someone’s child, you know,” said Vanessa Fontaine.
The report, issued Thursday by the New York City schools Special Commissioner of Investigations Richard Condon, offered the most complete account yet of the moments before 14-year-old Avonte vanished from his Queens school.
“The teacher did inform the people in her classroom, she should have also informed the administration, ” said Richard Condon , the school’s Special Commissioner of Investigation.
Avonte was able to slip away from his class Oct. 4, 2013, and run from an open door at his school in Long Island City. After over three months of searching, the teen’s remains were found on the shores of College Point in January.
The report indicates that Avonte and a group of other students were being escorted from the cafeteria to a technology classroom by two teachers.
One student broke away from the group and was followed by one of the teachers, leaving Avonte and the others with a substitute teacher.
When they arrived at the classroom, the substitute realized Avonte was missing.
Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, had indicated on a form to the school that her son had a tendency to run. “Safety concerns — Please make sure you keep an eye out he likes to run. Need 1 to 1 supervision will leave the building,” Fontaine wrote on the form.
Avonte Oquendo Disappearance 3.27.14
The report says the teacher never notified the school of Avonte’s propensity to run away and his others teachers weren’t aware of the risk, either.
One of Avonte’s other teachers told investigators the teen never gave her any indication he would run and was very “prompt dependent.”
Security footage released from that day shows Avonte running out a back door that was left open by a man who has yet to be identified.
The report also revealed that the principal in charge of the school at the time declined to make an announcement over the PA system when it was confirmed Avonte was missing, as he feared it would upset the other students.
The findings are the investigation are being referred to the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.
Avonte’s family is in the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the city in the boy’s death.
“I have other children, and we have to regroup and try to make our lives better now,” said Fontaine, showing the same strength she did throughout the difficult search for Avonte.