BCHS Parents Speak Up At PTA Meet
About 75 parents came to question Beach Channel High School’s new principal about overcrowding, safety, graduation requirements, and other issues, at the semester’s first Parent Teacher Association meeting, held Monday.
Parents also met BCHS Parent Coordinator Leah Chase – a BCHS parent and the liaison between other parents and the administration.
Although many grumbled about school safety before the meeting, following an incident where several pupils were arrested at the school and one young man was sent to the hospital, overcrowding was discussed first.
Between classes, parents said, their children, some fearful that bumping into someone else could spark a confrontation, have to navigate hallways clogged with other students.
BCHS Principal Barbara Pleener, said that the hallways are crowded because enrollment is up 900 students versus last year. Making it worse, teachers and students only have access to 80 percent of the school building, according to Pleener.
Pleener told parents that at this point in the school year, students should be able to get from class to class on time, and talked with parents about the school’s lateness policy. Then an outspoken parent, who said she is also a teacher, shifted the focus to safety.
Pleener, referring to the violence that erupted at the school on September 19, said the fight was "an issue that came from the community to the school." The 100 Precinct did not notify the school that trouble could be brewing that morning, she added.
At times, the meeting nearly lost focus as parents broke into side discussions. During one of those moments the mother of one of the young men who was assaulted, was urged by others to stand up and speak. The woman said she was unimpressed, because school officials did not call to see if her son was ok.
Some parents expressed concern that random weapon’s scanning at the school entrance was not enough, and the majority was displeased, because school safety agents and representatives from the 100 Precinct were not at the meeting.
Several mothers brought up other concerns. There was a "food fight" on Monday, according to at least two mothers. One said her daughter "ran to a corner," because she thought the cafeteria, with some 500 students in it and only one security guard, could get out of control. Another said she called 911 on Monday after school, about an incident involving students heading home on Beach Channel Drive.
Scheduling problems and graduation requirements were addressed by a representative from the guidance department.
A computer glitch caused the deletion of numerous students at BCHS and five other New York City public schools, according to one school official from the program office. What happens, she said, is that students disappear from a class attendance roster. The teacher then thinks the student is in the wrong classroom – and sends them to the office to resolve it. The students wind up in "computer limbo" instead of class. "It’s a nightmare," she said.