New Rochelle school officials said a safety plan for a senior with cerebral palsy had been worked out and scrutinized even before an incident last Thursday, when officials opted to send her to a holding room while the rest of the building was evacuated.
The comments came in response to complaints made to The Journal News/lohud.com by the senior, Jennifer Feltenstein, 17, and her father, Rich.
Smoking wires on Clove Road had forced the evacuation for about 20 minutes Thursday (Jan. 31) morning.
Rich Feltenstein and his daughter, who uses a motorized wheelchair, said Jennifer had been frightened when she was kept on the third floor with her aide and a security guard during the evacuation.
They wanted to know why the district had not used evacuation chairs that are designed to roll safely down staircases.
District spokesman Paul Costiglio released the following statement from Yvette Goorevitch, director of special and alternative education early Friday evening:
“Our Schools are required to develop individual safety plans developed for each student requiring specialized evacuation. Holding rooms are identified and marked in consultation with the Fire Department. Specifics of the plans can be obtained from the schools. I spoke to the father (Feltenstein) last evening when the student came home and reported her perception of the situation. Joe Starvaggi spoke to the father today and explained the reality of yesterday’s situation. In addition, this student’s access plans have been scrutinized and there were no concerns voiced about her evacuation and safety plan.
“Though not a requirement, we have recently ordered evacuation chairs for the HS and they have been obtained. They have rollers on them to facilitate evacuations.”
Costiglio said Friday that fire officials had told Starvaggi it would be safe to keep Jennifer Feltenstein in a holding room far from the smoke Thursday morning.
Rich Feltenstein said Monday that neither he nor his daughter had been shown a safety plan for Jennifer. He also said Starvaggi had not talked to him on Friday. He said his daughter was not able to get into the holding room in her motorized wheelchair because the location of the room required her to pivot at the edge of the top of a staircase.
No one was harmed in the incident.