'Audible Alarms' Law Proposed to Stop Kids Wandering From School

By Paul DeBenedetto on March 13, 2014 9:16am 

 Four-year-old Symeir Talley-Jasper, held in this photo by Public Advocate Letitia James, left his Bed-Stuy school unattended in January. Robert Cornegy, right, introduced a bill in the City Council to outfit school exits with an alarm system.
Four-year-old Symeir Talley-Jasper, held in this photo by Public Advocate Letitia James, left his Bed-Stuy school unattended in January. Robert Cornegy, right, introduced a bill in the City Council to outfit school exits with an alarm system.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

NEW YORK CITY — When 4-year-old Symeir Talley-Jasper walked out of P.S. 59 unattended on Jan. 23, nobody at his school noticed — until the boy's father brought him back.

Now a proposed "audible alarms bill" could stop incidents like Symeir's from happening in the future, according to the central Brooklyn councilman who is introducing it.

If enacted, schools across the city would have to equip all exit doors with an alarm system so that officials would be alerted if a child was leaving the building unattended.

The system has already been put into place in P.S. 59 at a cost of $139 per door, City Councilman Robert Cornegy said.

"This is a critical safety issue that can be accomplished quickly and affordably," Cornegy said at Wednesday's City Council meeting.

The rule would not apply to front entrances, which are already staffed by guards, a spokeswoman for Cornegy said.

Symeir, a Pre-K student at P.S. 59, asked to use the bathroom around 10 a.m. on Jan. 23, got lost in the hallway, left the school without a coat and walked home to the Tompkins Houses a block away in the winter chill, unsupervised.

He was later found by his mother, Quantasia Jasper.

The incident occurred just days after the remains of Avonte Oquendo were found on a Queens beach. Avonte, a 14-year-old autistic boy, disappeared from his Long Island City School in October.

By enacting the "audible alarms bill," parents won't have to worry about a similar incident happening to their child, Cornegy said.

"Our children deserve more," Cornegy said. "And as a parent and an elected official, I feel compelled to do more."

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