NYC Schools Chancellor Gets An Earful Over Alternative School On Staten Island

Walcott Shouted Down As Residents Strongly Object To Problem Students

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was outrage on Staten Island on Wednesday night over the plan to allow troubled teens to attend a prestigious middle school.

As CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis explains, parents fear for their children’s safety.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott was up against it at the board meeting. Parents were angry over a plan to move an alternative school for troubled middle schoolers next to their own children. One dad showed Dennis a picture of his injured son.

“A 14-year-old with two priors did this to him, put him in the hospital and this is what they want to bring here,” Stephen Wysokowski said.

The issue is safety at the prestigious Michael Petrides Middle School. Plans call for this separate administrative building on campus to house seventh and eighth graders suspended for the worst offenses — gang-related threats, sexual assaults and drugs.

Chancellor Walcott was shouted down while trying to explain the goal — to keep alternative kids on Staten Island, and stop transferring them to other boroughs like Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Among those opposed to the idea was area Councilman James Oddo.

“We know these are our kids, but much like in real estate, it’s location, location, location,” Oddo said to applause.

Then there was Dina Tush.

Tush held up pictures of young victims of domestic violence — even her own daughter, Jessica, who was killed by a boyfriend who was in and out of trouble at school.

“How many other daughters out there need to die!?!” Tush asked.

One supporter of the alternative school program is the teachers’ union.

“First of all, these are all our children. They are not criminals. These children have gotten into trouble, but they are not criminals,” said Emil Pietromonaco of the United Federation of Teachers.

Still, Chancellor Walcott said the plan is a good one. He said his only mistake was not getting feedback from parents sooner.

“We made a decision. We did not do the process properly, and I apologize for that,” Walcott said.

The apology from Walcott did little to satisfy those parents. They’re demanding he and the rest of the city’s Department of Education rethink this alternative school plan.

Walcott told parents he would take the matter under review.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Maureen

    As I stated, several alternative sites were mentioned. Not just purchasing private schools. The point being made is simple — there are other solutions. However, with regard to the monies being spent by the DOE, I can assure you that they are spending money where they see fit. The panel had no trouble approving nearly $200K in other expenditures at last night’s meeting, despite the hundreds of layoffs. I realize that your points are made by someone not fully informed and are just meant to incite argument — and good luck with that. You are not going to get it from me. The issue still remains the now-jeapordized safety of the children.

  • GEORGE Scott

    Every citizen of the United States if able to pass an investigation should be allowed to carry a registered handgun provided they have adequate lability insurance.
    If more people had licensed handguns I’m positive there would be less crime.
    If school teachers were allowed to defend themselves in classrooms there would be less school violence. If there were cameras in the classrooms there would be less crime in schools.

  • chiker

    BIG GOVERNMENT making decisions for the good of all. At least as they see the good of all. How many of their children will be put in the same situation?

  • KPMc

    “house seventh and eighth graders suspended for the worst offenses — gang-related threats, sexual assaults and drugs.”

    “They are not criminals. These children have gotten into trouble, but they are not criminals,” said Emil Pietromonaco of the United Federation of Teachers.”

    I wonder what activities Mr. Pietromonaco considers criminal.

    • Michael H.

      Technically you cannot be a criminal if you are under the age of 18. There are exceptions as allowed by the courts, like when a minor is tried as an adult, but for the most part they are classified as “juvenile delinquents”, not “criminals”. Pietromonaco is arguing semantics, but he is indeed correct. The children are not criminals, they are juvenile delinquents.

    • Boot camp is answer Get maury he will send them

      New york needs to have Boot camps for trouble youths like this and they should deal with the torture of that for the rest of there schooling.But too many damn liberals and to many moms with the attitude of not my child.I say if you hit a nother person or threaten a teacher boot camp is only choice.Or they should charge parents of these bully kids to send them to school.

      • Leslie

        There is a boot camp in New Jersey,. In fact there is one in every state and it’s Federally funded. It’s the Nattional Guard Youth Academy. I know because I sent my son who was headed down the wrong road to the one in Florida, and it changed his life, but it was in the middle of the woods(where this proppsed new alternative school should be) and the kids were locked down for 6 months. Absolutely wonderful program..

  • Shootingstar

    I am dumbfounded as to why these SI parents so strongly believe that people from other boroughs deserve to have their children exposed to unruly and dangerous SI kids versus having them stay in their own neighborhood. And Councilman Oddo sounds like a complete and total idiot.

    • Michael H.

      It’s a case of the NIMBY mentality. They want all the advantages of having these kids in a separate school (both administratively and physically, they are in a separate building), but they want these kids as far from their own as possible. “Let somebody else deal with them!”

    • Maureen

      As a Staten Island parent, I am not looking to ship these kids to another boro. I believe safety of the general ed student is an issue. These are children who are not allowed to mix in their own schools. Why have them mix with the general population at another school? And they would mix — the buildings are extremely close together, transporation is limited and the campus is communal. An alternate location should be chosen. I attended the meeting last night and several alternate locations were cited, particularly private schools that are now sitting empty. This issue has nothing to do with other boros.

      • Michael H.

        Are you prepared to have the City of New York buy a building to house these kids when we are laying off hundreds of Bd of Ed employees as it is? You can’t just say “hey, use this private school!”. That building has to be purchased and, odds are if it has been sitting vacant, renovated at great cost to the taxpayers of NYC.

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