The mother of Avonte Oquendo, the autistic child whose remains were found in the East River last week, has sued the city to obtain records that relate to Avonte's disappearance from his school in Astoria last October.
In a court filing yesterday, Vanessa Fontaine describes how the Department of Education has so far refused to hand over internal documents relating to Avonte's disappearance, stating that their release would damage an ongoing investigation. The DOE also cited "invasion of privacy" as a reason for not releasing the documents, which include information collected by the NYPD's School Safety Division.
“All that is sought is information about how Avonte came to be outside of his school unattended. Such information does not give rise to any legitimate concern about the privacy of Avonte,” Fontaine's lawyer, David Perecman, told reporters.
The lawsuit also describes conflicting reports from school safety officers on how Avonte exited the school building. Because of confusion among administrators and school security, tapes showing Avonte's exit from the building were not immediately accessible to safety personnel.
“It is highly likely that the NYPD records have detailed investigative information, not only about the actions of the teachers and paraprofessionals and administrators of the school, but also about the security system in place and the actions or inactions of the school security agents, employees of the NYPD,” the suit says.
This suit to overturn the decision to keep the records private is in anticipation of a larger one against the city, where the family of Avonte plans to sue for $25 million dollars.