2003-12-19 / Front Page

FRHS Provides Chancellor Klein With Firsthand Look At School Violence

By Howard Schwach
FRHS Provides Chancellor Klein With Firsthand Look At School Violence

FRHS Provides Chancellor Klein
With Firsthand Look At School Violence

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein came to Far Rockaway High School on Monday morning to discuss the problem of school violence with teacher's union leader Randi Weingarten, Deputy Mayor Dennis Wolcott, school safety chief Gerald Nelson and Ernie Logan, a vice president for the supervisor's union.

Klein and the others got more than they bargained for.

They got a firsthand look at one of the major problems facing the school system: what to do with disruptive students.

The meeting was interrupted when a 17-year old student in the hallway refused to show his identification to school security officers.

The youth, reportedly howling obscenities at the officers, caught the attention of those at the meeting.

Still struggling and screaming at the officers, the boy was hustled past stunned reporters who were waiting for comment by the Chancellor.

It reportedly took three security officers to take the boy from the scene and to quiet him down.

The boy was taken in handcuffs to the 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway, charged with disorderly conduct. At the precinct, he was issued a desk appearance ticket. He was met at the precinct by his parent, and returned to school.

At the school, however, the boy became abusive towards an assistant principal and had to be removed once again, according to Department of Education sources.

Those sources said that he probably would be suspended from school for five days, the maximum allowable under school rules. He will then be returned to the school.

Far Rockaway High School, which has been quiet for the past few months, sprang into the headlines last week when cops had to use pepper spray on unruly, out-of-control students after a fight between two groups of female students.

All in all, thirteen FRHS students were arrested in the past week, spurring the chancellor to hold the meeting at the school.

The school's principal, Cheryl Jones, told reporters that there was a "core group" of 70 to 100 problem students out of a total enrollment of 1,400 that were responsible for much of the violence in the school.

At the behest of the mayor, Wolcott, Klein and NYPD officials are tasked with coming up with a plan that would move habitually disruptive students out of the schools and into an alternative setting.

Subsequent to the meeting at Far Rockaway High School, Klein issued a statement.

"I want to make sure the city understands that this is our priority," Klein said. "The UFT, the CSA, the Department of Education, the police department and the mayor's office are all going to put our shoulders together, our heads together and we are going to make sure we take the actions necessary so that our schools are safe."

At a meeting at Beach Channel High School on Monday night, Region Five Supervising Administrator Kathleen Cashin told parents, "Suspensions are an issue of concern all over the city."

Cashin said that she would work to bring a New Beginnings School to Rockaway. Those schools are designed to address the individual needs of at-risk and disruptive students.

She said that she is "hopeful" that such a school will be funded in Rockaway.

Speaking of the incident at FRHS, one of the officials at the meeting told the press, "It was just unbelievable."

Most teachers, however, know that the incident was unfortunately, all too commonplace in today's middle and high schools.

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