Two Queens high schools on Mayor’s ‘problem’ list

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he and other city officials will add more school safety agents and police officers at two Queens high schools as part of a citywide initiative targeting 12 violent schools in the hope of reducing the overall number of criminal incidents.

The Republican mayor, speaking Monday at a news conference, said Franklin K. Lane High School in Woodhaven and Far Rockaway High School in Far Rockaway will be the first of 10 high schools in the city among other “problem” schools to be addressed in implementing the city Department of Education’s new school safety plan.

A total of 10 high schools and two middle schools will be singled out under the mayor’s plan, he said.

“We are cracking down on the schools with the worst safety records,” Bloomberg said. “They will be getting more police officers and a top to bottom review of all safety and disciplinary procedures,” Bloomberg said.

“Disruptive students will not be tolerated.”

Just one day, however, after Bloomberg made his announcement, two Far Rockaway High School students, Joseph Schenel, 18, and Joseph David, 17, were arrested and charged with assault after they allegedly attacked two school safety agents during a dispute took place inside the school’s cafeteria, police said. The two students were arrested at the school, cops said.

Two students at Franklin K. Lane were also arrested Tuesday at the high school following a hallway scuffle with school safety agents, officials said.

Bloomberg addressed an audience at City Hall along with schools Chancellor Joel Klein, United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Council of Supervisors and Administrators Executive Vice President Ernest Logan. New York Police Department Chief Ray Kelly was also at the announcement.

The other schools on the list included: Evander Childs, Adlai Stevenson and Christopher Columbus high schools in the Bronx; South Shore, Canarsie, Thomas Jefferson, and Sheepshead Bay high schools in Brooklyn; Washington Irving High School in Manhattan; and middle schools JHS 22 and IS 222 in the Bronx, Bloomberg said.

The schools, according to the mayor, were selected through a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of data from both the New York Police Department and city Department of Education, Bloomberg said.

Under the plan, each of the 12 schools will immediately receive additional school safety agents and the number of permanently assigned police officers will be doubled. The NYPD will also create a school safety task force, made up of 150 uniformed police officers, that will get underway in the next few months.

Bloomberg also said a modified suspension process, announced last month, will help to remove violent students.

“The actions we are announcing today demonstrate how seriously we take the fight against school violence and student disorder,” Klein said. “And when serious violators get caught, they will be taken out of school to learn somewhere else. In the end, it’s up to the leadership at each school to make sure it is a safe environment for learning.”

Klein also said the Department of Education will review the policies and procedures at each of the schools from top to bottom.

The 12 schools, designated as impact schools, were chosen after police and education officials examined the total number of incidents at schools, the number of incidents involving assaults, incidents involving weapons or dangerous instruments, and the total number of major crimes for both last year and the first few months of this school year, Bloomberg said.

Through Nov. 30, 2003, the impact schools, which make up less than 1 percent of the entire school system, accounted for 13 percent of all serious crimes and 11 percent of the total incidents in New York City schools, Bloomberg said.

Troubled schools were also identified through a review of data on safety-related transfers, superintendent suspensions, attendance and supervisory visits along with input from regional directors, regional superintendents and senior administrators.

All problem schools will eventually be addressed and more schools could be added to the list, Bloomberg said.

“We have a responsibility to provide an environment free from violence and fear so children can learn,” Bloomberg said. “We simply won’t allow a few people to destroy the educational opportunities of others.”

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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