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Building exits now have an alarm system due to a law that went into effect as a result of a fatal incident involving a student who left a city school unsupervised. In addition to the main doors, students can now only leave via the Queens College exit if a guard or aid is present. No student can leave the Melbourne Avenue exit or an alarm will sound.
The city passed the law after an unfortunate incident in 2013. Avonte Oquendo, a teenager with autism, left an unalarmed school during the school day in Long Island City, unaccompanied, and was later found dead in the East River
Since then, The Department of Education has purchased and funded alarm systems for nearly all public schools at a cost of 5.55 million dollars. Originally, the law’s designers only intended to equip elementary schools and schools with special needs populations with alarms, but the final bill widened the scope of the project to include any school the DOE deemed in need of alarms.
Though the purpose of the new security system is to monitor student exits, many believe that the new system is not necessary at THHS itself. Principal Anthony Barbetta describes us as “very fortunate.” He says, “while seniors have an open campus, I’m very confident in our school personnel to make sure our students aren’t running away. There’s no such thing as 100%, but this gives us an extra layer of security.” THHS students may feel little impact from this change, but the alarm system may benefit the special needs students at P.S 255 who share the building.
Ms. Cathy Hardy and Mr. Matt Curiale, who manage the special education classroom in room 412, believe that the new alarm will be a welcome addition to their school system.