City Council approves Avonte’s Law to install alarms on school doors

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- The New York City Council has approved Avonte's Law, legislation that will install audible alarms in the city's public schools that was inspired by the disappearance and death of a 14-year-old with non-verbal autism who ran out of his Queens school.

The bill,  passed unanimously, will require alarm installation  on the exterior doors of city schools catering to students grades pre-K through fifth, and schools with special needs programs.

The bill was named after Avonte Oquendo, who walked out of his Long Island City school while class was in session, and went missing in October 2013. His remains were found in January along the East River.

At least eight other New York City children went missing from school since then, spurring the introduction of the bill.

Among them was a 4-year-old boy in Brooklyn who wandered away from school and walked home without a coat on a bitterly cold winter day.

The Education Committee on Wednesday approved the legislation, sending it to a City Council vote.

However, education officials have not always been supportive of the law, expressing concern that "no single device can replace the human element."

"For a large and diverse school system such as ours, there is no one-size-fits-all response that will prevent a student leaving a building without permission," Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm said in a June 12 hearing.

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