Advocates pushing for Trevyon Rowe Child and Young Teen Mental Health Community Safety Act

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Advocates are pushing for legislation aimed at addressing what they say is a lack of mental and behavioral health services and support for children in the Rochester Community.

It’s named “The Trevyon Rowe Child and Young Teen Mental Health Community Safety Act” after the teen with autism who died after wandering away from his school in 2018.

Rowe walked away from School 12 on South Avenue on March 8, 2018. His body was found in the Genesee River three days later.

The legislation would require a framework to direct public servants including, teachers, administrators, safety staff, bus drivers, social workers, and other school employees, law enforcement, and public safety, on how to respond to children with suicidal ideation, who have been the victims of bullying or have wandered from school grounds.

“I know as a parent and also as an advocate that if we looked at Trevon’s IEP there was nothing in there about behavior or wandering. The wandering or elopement behavior… there was nothing in there,” says Lawana Jones, the President of the Autism Council of Rochester, “they knew and they got precursor warning when he wandered away from the school before.”

Jones is still pushing for change and thinks this legislation is a good first step, “even after that 145-page report came out of the Attorney General’s office, what has actually been done? Is anybody going back to make sure that those recommendations or the things that were outlined, that those gaps were filled? No, no one is doing that,” she says.

In addition to mandating districts work with outside mental health agencies and police to have better plans in place for students with special needs, the legislation also calls for a state commission to investigate whether school districts are being honest with the data they self-report when it comes to bullying, harassment and other mental health incidents, an issue News10NBC has been investigating for months.

Treyvon Rowe’s mother supports the Council’s push for legislation, “when I met with her recently, it’s just heart-wrenching there’s nothing to bring her son back and so I’m just hoping that this legislation will at least prevent this from happening to another family in our community,” Jones says.

In the meantime, the Autism Council continues its own outreach, “for African-American parents specifically, who have children that are on the spectrum, they’ve got a know what their rights are and they’ve got to be able to push when they need to push and they’ve got to be able to partner with the school when they need to partner,” says Jones.

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This Rochester City School District says its policies concerning wandering and elopement were updated in January.

More information can be found here.