2006-03-10 / Front Page

Student Forced To Flee BCHS After Assaults

By Howard Schwach

In the wake of a series of attacks on a BCHS student, both on the A Train and within the Beach Channel High School building, a Hamilton Beach family is hastily attempting to work out transfers to a safer school for their two sons.

The 15-year-old student and his father told their story to The Wave recently at a Howard Beach diner. The newspaper is withholding the family name to protect the teen from further retaliation.

The tenth grader said that he wanted to go to Beach Channel High School because of its crew team, the only such team in a city high school. It was on the way home from a late team practice on February 6 that he first experienced a problem.

He says that he got on the A Train at the Beach 98 Street Station and that he was quickly surrounded by a group of ten black males, who he says were "older," in their late teens or early twenties.

"They just came up and started punching me," he says. "There was no reason, they didn't say anything, and they just kept hitting me."

He was quickly knocked to the floor, where they began to kick him, he says.

"They kicked me in the back and face," he told The Wave. "The gave me a bloody face and hurt my back."

When the train stopped at Broad Channel, the men fled the train.

When they were gone, the youth got off the train and waited for the next one, continuing home.

When he came home, his father says, they immediately went to the 100 Precinct in Rockaway Beach to report the beating.

The next day, a detective from the Transit Police Robbery Bureau called the house and asked to speak to the youth, who had returned to school.

On Wednesday, however, the youth was assaulted and robbed on his way home from school. He says that these attackers were different from the ones who attacked him two days prior. He was sure that he saw some of these attackers at school.

In fact, the youth identified one of his attackers in the school cafeteria the next day and reported it to the teacher on duty, who contacted school security agents.

He was arrested by transit detectives later in the day. The Queens District Attorney has identified the attacker as Raymond Vanderveer, 17, of 253-60 148 Drive in Queens.

Vanderveer was charged in Queens Supreme Court with two counts of robbery, one count of assault and with endangering the welfare of a child.

According to the youth, however, his problems did not end with the arrest of his attacker.

In fact, he said, they began at that point.

He says that kids would walk past him in the hall and call him a "snitch."

"Word got around pretty fast that I had fingered [Vanderveer]," he said. "There were a lot of kids angry at me for going to the police."

He said that one group came up to him and a student told him, "I want to hit you so badly for snitching on my friend that I can't stand it."

When the youth tried to walk away by going down the staircase, he said he was punched on the back of his head by the student who had threatened him.

Later that day he tried to hole up in the guidance office, but was told that he had a test in Mathematics class and decided to go to class.

He says that the same group of boys came to the classroom door and began to kick on the door yelling threats and motioning with their hands to their throats that they were going to get him.

He says that they urged other students in the class "to get the white boy" for causing a problem for their friend.

The teacher called school security agents, who rounded up the students. It was unclear at press time how the school was handling the five students who were detained for the incident. Calls to the Department of Education for comment went unreturned at press time.

The youth's parents pulled him and his older brother from the school and have since been trying to get him a safety transfer to a central Queens school.

The father says that, while BCHS Principal David Morris signed the transfer papers for his two sons, he refused to meet with the family.

"We waited for four hours for the papers," the father said. "Finally they were brought out to us, but the principal never came to speak with us."

"Region Five officials offered them a transfer to Far Rockaway High School," the father said, "but that is not acceptable, not what we want."

A spokesperson for the Department of Education, however, told The Wave that the family was offered three options: Van Buren High School; Campus Magnet High School and Hillcrest High School. That spokesperson said the family did not respond to the DOE's officer.

The DOE spokesperson also said that three of the students who came after the youth in school were arrested for threatening a witness and other charges and that they were suspended from school for their actions.

Vanderveer was released on his own recognizance. His next court date is set for March 29.

His lawyer, Robert Lucks, declined to comment on the case.

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