Westchester School Leaves Behind Disabled Students in Fire Evacuation

A Westchester high school's evacuation procedures are being questioned by the Justice Department after two students who use wheelchairs were left behind during a fire emergency.

The two students were left in a third-floor classroom of New Rochelle High School in January, while the rest of the school evacuated because of a fire near the building.

"Nobody ever came and saw her, nobody checked on her," said Richard Feltenstein, the father of senior Jennifer Feltenstein, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

A formal inquiry by the Justice Department is underway to determine exactly why Feltenstein and another student where left in the school during the evacuation.

In a statement, a spokesman for the New Rochelle School District said their legal counsel was "in the process of responding to the Justice Department inquiry."

Jennifer Feltenstein told NBC 4 New York that the district's plan for dealing with students with disabilities in an emergency involves getting them to so-called safe rooms where EMS crews can find them, but the safe room closest to her during last month's fire required maneuvering down steps.

"We've been asking for the four years for me not to be put on the third floor and they just keep putting me up there," she said.

According to her father, fire crews were never told his daughter was still inside the building and none of the faculty at the school were trained to use special evacuation chairs installed inside.

After speaking with Justice Department officials, Richard Feltenstein said he is hoping for a concrete safety plan that spares anyone from the fear his daughter endured that day.

"My daughter felt when she came home from school that nothing's gonna happen here at the school until somebody dies, and that's pathetic," Feltenstein said. "That's a horrible thing to say."

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