By Patrick Donachie
Representatives from pro-charter advocacy organization Families for Excellent Schools gathered at the steps of City Hall Wednesday morning to call greater attention to violence in the city’s public schools.
The rally was held one day after a student was arrested for bringing a loaded gun to his Brooklyn school and less thana week after two students brought loaded weapons into their schools in Jamaica in separate incidents. It also followed the release of a report by the nonprofitorganization indicating that the confiscation of weapons in New York’s public schools spiked from 2014 to 2015.
The report, which the organization said was based on data from the NYPD’s School Safety Division, stated that 13 firearms were confiscated in 2015, as opposed to 10 in 2014. Overall, 1,678 weapons were recovered in 2015, compared to 1,508 in the previous school year. Families for Excellent Schools advocates for charter schools and has consistently been at odds with Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s Department of Education. The most recent incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon at Middle School 61 in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, where police responded after school staff learned the student had a 9mm handgun, according to an NYPD spokesman. The 14-year old student was subsequently arrested.
The two Jamaica incidents occurred two days apart. On March 15, an 11-year old student was caught after he brought a loaded 9mm pistol to Public School 40, at 109-20 Union Hall St., police said. The gun was hidden in his backpack and allegedly belonged to Kenneth Miley, 54, the student’s grandfather, the NYPD said. Miley was later arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon, endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment, according to police.
On March 17, the NYPD was called in after school administrators learned that a 15-year old student smuggled a loaded .38 revolver into York Early College Academy, at 133-25 Guy R Brewer Blvd. after he had threatened another student, according to a police spokeswoman. The weapon was confiscated and the student was arrested at the school, she said.
The NYPD spokeswoman said the incidents at PS 40 and York Early College Academy were wholly unrelated.
City Department of Education spokeswoman Toya Holness responded to the arrest at York Early College Academy in an e-mailed statement.
“This is deeply alarming and we are working closely with the NYPD to ensure that all students and staff are safe,” she said. “We are providing additional resources to support the school community and families were notified.”
York Early College Academy’s high school received high marks from students, parents and teachers in a 2014-2015 School Quality Snapshot conducted by the DOE. The school has a 94 percent four-year graduation rate, compared to a 70 percent citywide average. Some 91 percent of students at the school “feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms, locker room, and cafeteria” according to the report.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona