Associated Press reports:
The federal government would pay for GPS tracking devices for autistic children under legislation proposed Sunday by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and named for a New York City boy who wandered away from his school three months ago and was found dead in a city river.
“Avonte’s Law,” named for 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo, would provide $10 million to pay for the high-tech device that could be worn on the wrist, kept in a wallet or sewn into clothing.
Read more on Syracuse.com.
As with Alzheimer’s, I’m not saying that this is a bad idea – if you’ve ever lived with/cared for a wanderer, you know the safety issues and would likely welcome this type of assistance.
But we also need to understand more about how Avonte ran out of the Riverview School the way he did, as there’s supposed to be an adult/monitoring at each school entrance and exit. The monitors are generally oriented towards keeping people out of the building, but if you’re in a special needs school of this kind with an IEP that notes you’re a wanderer, having a kid go missing and then not noting it/reporting it to police and parents promptly is concerning. In many special needs schools, students are never unattended as they go from class to class or setting to setting. Was Avonte supposed to have an aide showing him or was he allowed to travel the halls by himself? I’ve also read reports that the administrators at the new school didn’t have passwords to access the security footage and that other security elements were not yet in place at the school. But as long as the NYC Board of Education places students in this school (and the school’s portal indicates it has 85 students in k-9), then the city has a responsibility to ensure that students are placed in a safe environment. This will all be small consolation for Avonte’s family, and my heart goes out to them, but maybe we can prevent some other family from having to go through this type of tragedy.