To Prevent Wandering, Schools Move Forward With Alarms
The nation’s largest school district says it will install door alarms at nearly every one of its schools in an effort to help protect students with disabilities who are at risk of wandering.
The New York City Department of Education said this week that 97 percent of its schools have requested the alarms, which will be installed by the end of 2015. Some schools already had alarms in place or are located inside buildings with security, officials said.
In total, the district plans to spend $5.55 million to put more than 21,000 devices in over 1,200 school buildings.
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The massive effort comes nearly two years after Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old with autism who was nonverbal, disappeared from his New York City school. The teen was found dead more than three months later following a large-scale search effort that drew national media attention.
Local legislation instituted in Oquendo’s name required the city’s schools to evaluate the need for alarms and other safety equipment.
School officials said that alarms are being installed first at elementary schools and those serving students with special needs exclusively.
“These notification systems will give school officials important new tools to further our commitment to ensure safe communities,” said Carmen Fariña who heads the New York City Department of Education.