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Theyre not safe yet. Sheepshead Bay, Canarsie and Samuel J. Tilden high schools have yet to get crime under control so they will remain on the citys list of the most dangerous schools in the five boroughs. This was revealed when Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that two other schools Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx and Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan will be removed from the impact list thanks to significant drops in violent incidents. Since being named impact schools and having cops patrol their halls on a daily basis, Christopher Columbus and Norman Thomas recorded a 54 percent drop in total crime, including a 42 percent drop in violent crime. But the continued presence of Sheepshead Bay, Canarsie and Tilden on the list means that their numbers are not as low. If thats the case, some local parents said there should be no rush to get the schools off the list. Without a safe building in which children can go from class to class, its a problem, said Michael Benjamin, first vice president of District 22s Community Education Council (CEC). So Im not disturbed that a school remains on the list. However, he said, Im particularly upset that apparently the problem hasnt been resolved. Since Sheepshead Bay, Canarsie and Tilden have each been classified as impact schools for at least one year, some wondered why crime still remains an issue. There has to be a way that the Department of Education in conjunction with [the departments] School Safety [division] and the Police Department can get a handle on the schools, Benjamin said. Our schools can be controlled. Two other local schools were removed from the impact list last year after the number of criminal incidents in their buildings declined. After leaving impact status, the Department of Education gave the schools South Shore and Lafayette high schools some time to see if their new designations as safe schools would attract students, thereby boosting enrollment at the underutilized schools. But that failed to happen and the department has since revealed plans to phase out the schools and open a series of small schools in each of their buildings. Tilden is currently undergoing the same process. Now some are wondering if that could ultimately be the fate for Canarsie or Sheepshead Bay high schools if crime doesnt decrease. To give up on a public high school is not the way to go, Benjamin said. There has to be a way to make our children want to go to these schools and thrive and flourish.
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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