2005-02-18 / Front Page

BCHS Crime Spree Blamed On Administration

By Howard Schwach


By all accounts, Beach Channel High School can be a dangerous place for both students and staff.

Recent events have shown that the area around the school can be dangerous as well.

One recent published report cited the fact that there have been more than 30 biting and scratching incidents in the school’s special education wing, and that staff is neither adequately equipped nor trained to protect themselves from medical harm.

The school’s latest report card on the Department of Education Website says that, while the average high school in the city has 58.7 suspensions per thousand students, Beach Channel’s suspension rate ran to 184 suspensions per thousand students, more than three times the city average.

And, while the average city school has a rate of 6.7 reported crimes per thousand students, Beach Channel’s crime rate is 13.7 crimes per thousand students, more than double the city average.

The latest of those crimes in and around the building involved three young men who, wolf-pack fashion, assaulted and robbed at least four people nearby the school on February 8.

According to a spokesperson for the Queens District Attorney, the three have been indicted and charged with both robbery in the second degree and assault.

They have been identified by the District Attorney as Maurice Charley, Louis Irazarry and Juan Cruz. Of the three, only Irazarry is believed to be a Beach Channel High School student. It is unknown as to where the others attend school.

The incident began at about 8 a.m. at Beach 101 Street and the Freeway. Two young brothers walking to Beach Channel High School were accosted by the three boys, The two, whose identity is being withheld by The Wave, were grabbed by the defendants who demanded money. They took their money and Metro Cards and grabbed the younger boy’s wallet, removing money. The older brother was punched in the face by two of the boys.

Shortly thereafter, another student on the way to school was put into a headlock by Irazarry while the other emptied his pockets. He too was beaten by the three boys.

The three boys fled to the gas station at Beach Channel Drive and Beach 97 Street where they surrounded Ali Inchan, a motorist who was filling his automobile with gas. They demanded money and food. When he pulled out his cell phone to call police, the three reportedly grabbed his phone and beat him.

They then fled the scene.

They were arrested later in the day by police from the 100 Precinct and were identified by some of the victims.

Both Irazarry and Charley are being held on $10 thousand bond on each of the indictments. Cruz was releases on his own recognizance.

While Region Five officials continue to say that the school is safe, parents point to that incident and others inside the building that make them increasingly worried about the safety of their children.

Parents blame the school’s administration and particularly its principal for the problems the school is facing.

“In recent months, the staff of Beach Channel High School has encountered many obstacles in the performance of its duties,” one staff member who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, told The Wave this week. “The principal has to have all superintendent’s suspensions approved by the Local Instructional Superintendent, Anthony Conelli, and the region has ordered him to get the number of suspensions down.”

The teacher points to an incident two weeks ago, when a male student was found in the building with a knife.

Instead of moving for a superintendent’s suspension, which is mandated, the principal placed the boy on a three-day in-house suspension. After three days, the boy was back in his regular classes.

In another case, which was cited by both the staff member and two parents, a female student was found with a cell phone in the building, a violation of school rules.

When a School Security Agent attempted to take the cell phone away, the girl reportedly fought back against the officer and was eventually arrested and suspended.

According to both parents and staff, the girl’s mother, reportedly a school administrator at another school, came to the principal and the suspension was immediately rescinded. The student then reportedly threw a ball of aluminum foil at a school aide who had reported her cell phone use and then was abusive to other school staff.

While the Assistant Principal in charge of security and the deans are tasked with taking care of such problems at the lowest level, the school’s AP/Security, Matthew Katz, has reportedly been moved out of his office and made to share space in the main office with one of the secretaries.

“Katz is the guy who is holding the school together,” a parent told The Wave. “Now’s he’s been moved out of the way by the principal and I heard that they are trying to get rid of him in June.”

“How can they leave the dean’s office empty when all of these things are going on,” she asks.

The parent also said that the security agents were no longer confiscating cell phones because they feel that their actions will not be supported by the administration.

While the wolf pack incident was outside of the school, both parents and staff say that the attitude that students can “get away with anything they do” begins inside with the administration.

“The staff was recently told at a faculty meeting that if students are non-compliant with school rules and become aggressive, the staff members involved are to stand down and back away,” a staff member says. “That, in effect, teaches the student that if they confront a staff member, they will be able to get away with anything they do wrong.”

Calls to the school went unreturned. The Department of Education declined to comment because “there are personnel matters involved,” and it is illegal to comment on personnel matters.

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