June 12, 2019

Avonte Oquendo
Avonte Oquendo

Autism Daily Newscast reported on the story of Avonte Oquendo back in October 2013 when he went missing from Riverview School in New York. We were saddened to have to report on Jan 22 that body parts found were those of Avonte.

A change.org petition has now been started by Samantha Robinson and parents of Riverview School, Long Island City, New York. Autism Daily Newscast believes that all stories of interest to the autism spectrum community should be published, but in so doing, we do not endorse any one position or view.

The petition’ Reprimand all Riverview School employees responsible for the negligence of Avonte Oquendo leading to his disappearance on October 4th, 2013 from Long Island City, NY.’ details the sequence of events during the school day in which Avonte went missing from school.

The petition states that school security is not a priority and the parents behind the petition are now asking:

‘that all faculty, staff, contract employees and temps who fail to protect children in any way from the dangers that Avonte faced will not only be dismissed, but charged with negligence, and barred from working with children ever again through certificate/license revocation.’

The petition then goes on to say that this type of tragedy should never happen as parents put their trust in the school and the staff to protect their children.

This newscast is opened up for comments. We would like to hear from our readers their opinions on this subject.

The petition on change.org can be found here

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  • To Esther from Rhode Island ….. I don’t understand the point you are making about parents being bad parents if their child falls down the stairs or eats poison berries, etc. Are you kidding me??? Number one: those things are called “accidents”. Number two: when a child dies due to the negligence of a parent at home…… The parent does face charges being brought against them for “child neglect” and their other children being taken out of the home. Number three: you said, “do none of them have children of their own?” DUH….. It clearly said that this group was started by other parents at Riverview School. Yes, the staff involved in this case may be heartbroken, but that does not mean that they shouldn’t be held accountable. Some of them were extremely negligent in their duties. That brings me to Number four: You, Esther, displayed arrogance, coldness, and just plain rudeness in feeling it necessary to “correct” their grammar. Really? How sad is that? And lastly…. If you have never walked in the shoes of a parent of a Special Needs child….. you have no right to criticize.

    • I work in classrooms like his. It was a perfect storm of mistakes with tragic consequences. To think that someone would wish MY license revoked because of a perfect storm of mistakes strikes me as draconian and gives me fright. The “litigate to perfection” mentality cannot prevent accidents and mistakes. All it does is make professionals want to leave the job. When my kid ate poison berries from the back yard and got desperately ill, it was not because I was a bad mother. It was because it’s impossible to watch and protect every child every minute of every day. No one can do it. It’s not possible. If you’ve never had an accident happen, more power to you. When there are mistakes compounding mistakes compounding accidents, the result can be tragic. It happens. Taking away the livelihood of every teacher, staff member, contractor, and sub from the school is draconian. And how would it help? They’ll be replaced by other humans who are also accident- and mistake-prone. Unless you put a ball and chain on the leg of every wanderer, the wanderers shall still wander. Alarm the doors, post sentries at doors, remove passowrds from security cameras, add more security cameras to the outaide of the building. THESE changes can prevent a recurrence. Firing all the staff and revoking their licenses won’t help in the long run. It will only serve to ease the minds of those who MUST have a scapegoat for every calamity.

      • Esther, I think you’re not fully understanding the petition. They aren’t asking for the reprimand of EVERY staff member. Just every staff member whose negligence lead to the disappearance and eventual death of a young special needs boy. Being that the child was in a “special school” tells me that the family and school district have a legal agreement called an I.E.P. or Individualized Education Plan. It was said that the boy was supposed to have 1 on 1 instruction. That means that an aide was supposed to be with him every moment he was in the school’s care. That leads me to come to the conclusion that 1 on 1 instruction is in his I.E.P. An I.E.P. is a legally binding document and it is painfully obvious that Avonte did not have that 1 on 1 instruction. If he didn’t, shame on the school. If he did, where was his aide? Should he/she not be reprimanded for not doing their job? If he/she were in the military and couldn’t be found to do their job, that would be called MIA and he/she would face a multitude of sanctions. They need to be brought to justice. If not for this child, then for the next one they lose.
        If I read your statements correct, it seems as though you may just be a grammar Nazi. I think you probably only read a portion of the petition and made a snap decision based on the way it was written not the reason it was written. That’s ok. That’s a mistake. Neglecting and thereby losing a child is not mistake. It’s criminal!

  • Why do you think the school and board of education are refusing to release the report surrounding his disappearance? Why do you think it took them close to an hour to notify the authorities or the parents? Someone messed up. Someone needs to pay. Is there a villain? Do you know there is? Do you know there isn’t? Neither do I. The only way to know is to force them to release those reports. The only way to learn from mistakes is to know what mistakes were made.

  • I am a self-admitted Grammar Freak. You got me there. 🙂
    I just don’t think there’s really a villain here.
    I suspect that the student to staff ratio is too high. I have read conflicting news stories about how many adults and how many students there were. I have read conflicting reports about how the group was moving or where they were. If the student to staff ratio is too high, that needs to be adressed immediately. I have read news stories that said there were 13 students, one teacher, and two aids. If that’s true then the ratio is nearly 4:1. That’s FAR too high for a population of wanderers. Not having alarmed doors is a mistake for a population of wanderers. Having the security camera footage be inacceasible due to no one’s knowing the passwords is a mistake for ALL populations. At least three mistakes right there. But is there a villain? Is there someone who should be barred from a career?

  • Are they kidding? Do none of them have children of their own? Should their license to parent have been revoked when their children fell down the stairs, ate poison berries in the back yard, or rode too far on a bicycle and lost track of time? I am sure that the staff of the school are heartbroken too. To threaten to revoke a professional license because a tragic accident happened is just plain draconian. By the way, their grammar is horrendous. “… the negligence of Avonte Oquendo…” is wrong. The young boy was not negligent.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


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