LONG ISLAND CITY — The law firm that represented the family of Avonte Oquendo is giving out a scholarship in his memory, to be awarded to a student who has autism or whose family has been affected by it.
The Perecman Firm announced the Avonte Oquendo Memorial Scholarship on its website this week, named after the 14-year-old autistic student who went missing from his Long Island City special needs school in 2013 and whose remains were found months later.
"Avonte's case brought the issue of autism to the forefront of our minds," said David Perecman, the firm's founding attorney. "We thought it would be a nice thing if we, as a law firm, did a little something for people who have autism."
The $1,000 scholarship will be given to a college student who's been diagnosed with a form of autism, or has a close family member who's affected. Applicants are required to answer an essay question and submit their most recent school transcript.
The deadline for applying is July 31, and the award will be doled out in fall of 2016.
This is the second year the law firm has given out the scholarship, with last year's going to an 18-year-old student with Asperger's Syndrome.
In addition to honoring Avonte, Perecman said the award is a way to draw public attention to the need for reform to help people with autism.
His firm has been pushing for the passage of "Avonte's Law," a federal bill proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer that would fund a program to provide voluntary tracking devices for autistic children who have a tendency to run or wander off, as Avonte did.
A petition in support of the bill started by the Perecman Firm has more than 5,000 signatures.
The City Council also passed a bill known as "Avonte's Law" last year, which required the Department of Education to survey its school buildings for the need for door alarms that would prevent students from leaving the buildings unnoticed.
Alarms were installed last year on nearly all of the city's school buildings under the law.