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Investigation report offers new details about how Avonte Oquendo disappeared

A final accounting of how 14-year-old autistic student Avonte Oquendo managed to leave his Queens school unnoticed last October shows that his teacher went above and beyond to collect information about her students—eliciting a warning from Avonte’s mother that he “likes to run.”

But that information wasn’t shared with school administrators, according to an official investigation report released Thursday. That report illustrates how inconsistent reporting of Avonte’s tendency to run, a distracted school safety agent, a door left ajar, teachers and paraprofessionals’ preoccupation with other high-needs students as they navigated the school hallways, and an interim principal’s hesitation to initiate a lockdown contributed to his disappearance.

Avonte’s remains were found in January after months of searching.

According to the report, Avonte’s most recent Individualized Education Plan, the document that outlines the services that Avonte was entitled to receive from the school, didn’t indicate that he should be watched in case he ran, though that document was signed by Avonte’s mother. The lawyer for Avonte’s family had previously said that information was a part of Avonte’s IEP.

The report leaves other questions unanswered. Investigators said that Avonte left the school through a side door that had been left open by a man who security cameras showed exiting the building 30 minutes before Avonte did. But investigators have been unable to identify the man, even after consulting with the external companies doing work on the school building.

In response to the new details, Chancellor Carmen Fariña called Avonte’s death “truly tragic.”

“We are reviewing the report closely and are committed to working diligently to prevent another tragedy like this from ever occurring again,” she said in a statement.

We’ve annotated the full report from the Special Commissioner of Investigation below:


<a href=”http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1097787/avonte-oquendo-disappearance-3-27-14.pdf”>Avonte Oquendo Disappearance 3 27 14 (PDF)</a></p>
<p><a href=”http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1097787/avonte-oquendo-disappearance-3-27-14.txt”>Avonte Oquendo Disappearance 3 27 14 (Text)</a><br />