NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some parents in Chelsea say the lack of safety in their schools is out of control.
They claim even principals have asked the city for more school safety agents, but they told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner on Thursday their requests have been falling on deaf ears.
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A girl was recently repeatedly punched in the stairwell at Middle School 297 on Morton Street and another was pulled by her hair to the ground outside. Seventh grader Paul Ramos said there’s not enough safety agents to monitor the six floors of the school. After someone hit him with a locker door, I transferred out last month.
“I was being kicked around, messed with, punched,” Ramos said.
“So he basically couldn’t concentrate on learning,” his mother, Olivia Ramos, added. “There’s not a librarian, but there’s five assistant principals. So you tell me where the priorities are there.”
It’s a problem CBS2’s Marcia Kramer brought to Mayor Eric Adams’ attention on Monday, showing him the weapons a 14-year-old student had in his backpack late last week at Intermediate School 70 — The Lab School.
The School Safety Division is down 2,000 agents due to budget cuts and the vaccine mandate.
“I’m not removing my school safety agents. We are going to do an analysis of the needs and I’m going to protect my children,” Adams said.
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When Rozner followed up, asking the Mayor’s office if there were immediate plans to beef up security, a City Hall spokesperson said, “The safety of our students is a top priority, and we are analyzing to see how we can better support our schools and protect our students.”
The spokesperson referred her to NYPD regarding the timing of any plans.
Just two weeks ago at the Morton Street school, another seventh grader was body-slammed. He’ll be in the hospital for a few weeks due to a concussion, a broken nose and multiple missing teeth.
The NYPD says it’s training a new class of safety agents, but the safety agents union says it’s a class of almost 200, a fraction of the void.
“It takes about five months to get a school safety agent in place. So, if we started today, by September we can have school safety agents in place,” union president Gregory Floyd said.
“This year, school safety agents have seized 13 firearms,” said Mona Davids of the New York City School Safety Coalition. “How is a violence interrupter going to search and find 13 guns?”
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A representative for Community Education Council 2 said three elementary school principals are down to one safety agent each, with the principals asking the city to replace the second one taken away because they can’t properly cover entrances and exits.
“It does feel like we’re all left to fend for ourselves right now,” the council’s Robin Kelleher said.
Parents who spoke to CBS2 said even though the Department of Education has a public link to report incidents, parents are discouraged by administrators from filing for fear it reflects poorly on their leadership.
The DOE released the following statement on Thursday afternoon:
“Bullying has no place in our schools, and all incidents of bullying should be immediately reported to a caring adult at the school or through our online complaint portal. Our schools must be sanctuaries for our young people as they grow academically and socially, and our school staff work hand-in-hand every day with outstanding School Safety Agents to provide safe, supportive environments for every student. We’ve instituted a range of measures to support the needs and safety of both students and the school community, including working with Youth Community Officers and hiring additional school aides, social workers and sub paraprofessionals.”
Editor’s note: This story was first published Feb. 3.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism