Bill to Put Alarms on School Exits Needed as Pre-K Expands, Councilman Says

By Paul DeBenedetto on April 11, 2014 10:38am 

 Robert Cornegy at a rally for his "audible alarms bill." The bill would require  public schools that serve young children to install alarms at their exits.
Robert Cornegy at a rally for his "audible alarms bill." The bill would require  public schools that serve young children to install alarms at their exits.
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Office of Robert Cornegy

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A City Council bill that would require alarms on all public school exit doors is more crucial than ever as pre-K begins to expand, the bill's sponsor said. 

The bill, introduced last month by central Brooklyn Councilman Robert Cornegy, is a response to a string of incidents in the past few months in which at least six children walked out of public school buildings without the knowledge of staff, Cornegy said.

Those children include Avonte Oquendo, an autistic 14-year-old found dead after fleeing his Long Island City school, and Symeir Talley-Jasper, a pre-K student who left his Bed-Stuy school and walked home.

With universal pre-K becoming a reality in New York, more protection is needed, Cornegy said.

"This safety issue must be addressed promptly before the expansion of pre-kindergarten brings thousands of additional 3 and 4-year-olds into school buildings this fall,” read a statement from Cornegy.

If enacted, the "audible alarms bill" would require all public schools that house elementary and special education students to install audible alarms on every door but the front entrance, which is monitored by a security guard. 

While the bill is supported by city council education chair Daniel Dromm, the DOE has concerns about the cost of the project, as WNYC first reported.

But P.S. 59, the school Symeir walked out of, installed alarms on all of its doors for about $139 per door, Cornegy said.

It's an issue the councilman said hit close to home.

“I am a father of six children, including 6-year-old twins," Cornegy said. "It makes me shudder to think of them in the streets on their own."

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