It has been almost four months since Avonte Oquendo disappeared and new information on the day the autistic teen went missing has surfaced, leaving larger questions, according to the boy’s family’s attorney.
Avonte was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Ave. in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Oct. 4. There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school.
According to a Department of Education occurrence report obtained by David Perecman, an attorney for Avonte’s family, a timeline shows what happened before, during and after the boy went missing.
The 14-year-old boy was part of a class with three people watching the group. The number of children in the class is still unknown, according to the report. The group entered the stairwell on the fifth floor and then exited on the second floor, but in the middle of the descent Avonte got away from the group and made his way to the first floor.
The boy then is seen through surveillance cameras walking by the security desk twice before leaving the side door, on Center Boulevard, which had been left opened, according to the report. A few minutes later, a school safety agent closed the door.
According to the report, the boy’s teachers did not notice him missing until 12:40 p.m. and did not notify the assistant principal until 12:56 p.m. who then went to the safety agent at the main desk who told her she had not seen Avonte leave the school. Instead, she emphasized she had seen the boy go up the stairs.
Perecman said the safety agent’s story does not match the surveillance tape that shows the boy leaving the school. He also said the agent initially told Avonte’s grandmother she had not stopped the boy from leaving the school because she didn’t know he was disabled.
“It’s really very distressing to think these are the people watching over your children,” said Perecman. “This place is dysfunctional. These kids should be watching the teachers.”
The timeline report also shows the school administration did not know Avonte had left the building until almost two hours later because they did not have the security codes needed to access the surveillance tapes, according to Perecman.
Perecman also said a lockdown was not put into effect until 2 p.m. because the assistant principal’s initial request for a “soft lockdown” was denied to make sure they did not “upset other students.”
The Department of Education did not respond for comment.
Volunteers and family searching for the boy moved from their outdoor Long Island City headquarters to an indoor one at 21-81A 24th Street in Astoria.
The new headquarters will be opened from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Volunteers are encouraged to stop by the site or call 718-606-6610. For more information visit the Official Help Find Avonte Facebook page.
Since Avonte went missing, the reward to find him has increased to $95,000.
Avonte was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.