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.

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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.

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“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.

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