Guns, Knives and Very Sharp #2 Pencils

2013-01-07 20.58.47

Last night I attended the Staten Island Community Education Council (CEC) for District 31. I raised some concerns at the December meeting and will probably be attending every monthly meeting. When I signed up, last week, to speak at this meeting, I had no idea about Resolution 76 – Proposal to hire retired and armed police officers to patrol our schools in plain clothes. I registered to speak to the council and not 100 concerned parents and community members. Every news station was there and I tried to speak on topic.

Unfortunately I only had 3 minutes to speak and this is what I was able to squeeze out:

“I’m a parent and an educator. I speak to you tonight as a parent.”

In the last seven years IS 49 has had (and this can be any neglected school):

  • A significant rise in incidents. From 763 in 2005 to 1283 in 2012 as per a Freedom of Information request I made

Incidents Reported IS 49

Next I spoke about POSSIBLE ASBESTOS HAZARD CREATED DUE TO NEGLIGENCE

A wall was demolished with no containment or any regard to possible asbestos. According to the AHERA report of IS 49, and some officials, it did in fact contain asbestos.  Eyewitness accounts state the dust was everywhere. Desks, chairs, walls etc. Where is the accountability? It’s not only guns that can harm educators and students in schools.

I finished off the fact that I have been raising concerns for over a year and was sent into exile…the Rubber Room.

 

What I wanted to bring up, but didn’t have time was:

It’s 258 days since I was exiled from the school after I raised concerns. It’s 344 days since false investigations were started on me after I raised concerns. I have been charged with nothing, yet kept from teaching.

The next incident that occurs may not be from a stranger, but possibly someone who belongs in the school. That means the perp can walk right by school safety. What we need to work on is discipline and the proper education for these students.  In March 2011, a student told his social studies teacher that he had a gun in his bag. The teacher followed protocol and called school safety agents. The student ran out of the class with his bag. The student was then cornered and out of rage punched a class door window, severely cutting up his arm. He, luckily, did not have a gun.

The next day was that boy suspended? No, instead Principal Linda Hill and Assistant Principal Denise Diacomanolis thought he earned the right to attend a school rollerblading trip. Yes, the boy who said he had a gun, cut class and destructed property was rollerblading on a school trip with a bandaged hand. Lesson taught? Please comment below and let me know.

Did you know?:

  • Students, that live by the school, post on Facebook that there is or isn’t metal detector scanning in the morning? That way they can bring in their cell phones (hopefully just cell phones)
  • Students, who want to sneak something in during a scanning day, wait by the bodega down the street until after the scanning is over.
  • These Items need to be addressed.

The last time the CEC had a meeting like this was on June 6, 2012 and Chancellor Walcott was present. A parent asked “What about the issues at IS 49?” Chancellor Dennis Walcott’s response was “We are aware of the issues at IS 49 and are working closely with Tweed to resolve them.” Little did he, and the audience, that just three hours prior to being asked that question, a suspended girl, who was not allowed in the building, was let in from a side door and beat up a teacher and assistant principal. The assistant principal did not come back until Thanksgiving. Yes from June 6th to Thanksgiving. You didn’t hear about this in the news? That’s because it was swept under the rug. What happened to the girl you ask? Surely she was cuffed and taken out, right? No. She was left to go home.

This is what an eyewitness recounts and sent to me privately:

“ On the day (June 6, 12) of the incident, with Student A Ms. ______shielded student A with her body so that she would not get cuffed by School Safety. Student A was pinned against the wall by her AP, her body up against Student A and her two arms against the wall so that she had leverage to move her body if anyone tried to get to  Student A.School safety tried on several occasions to try and secure Student A to be cuffed, but Ms. ______ moved her body to and fro and and school safety was not able to cuff Student A. It was absolutely disgusting to see _____’ body up against a student. All of this can be verified by the video tape from the security cameras, she was next to Rm 131.Hill (principal) called in school safety agents and tried to say that they were responsible for allowing  Student A to get in building. School safety, at dismissal, is usually relieved by Hill or AP (when they were checking staff out for day) so that an agent can go to the doors to make sure they are closed.______was checking out staff for that day, but she did not go early to relive level 3, because she wanted staff to wait for making complaints about having to wait to check out. By the time _____ got to relieve level 3 was the same time that _____sneaked through the doors.

There are no suggestion because no matter what we do nothing is ever done about it… ”

Maybe next time I can have a projector set up and more time for a thorough presentation. I would love to continue the conversation, but I feel the right people are not listening and acting.

The staff at the school, that I represent, are texting, emailing and calling me to tell me how “out of control” things have become. One just wrote to me, “someone is going to get really hurt.” I hope they are wrong.

When there is a lack of discipline, then even a sharp #2 pencil can be a very dangerous weapon.

 

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About Francesco Portelos

Parent and Educator fighting for the student and the teacher.
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