Councilman Robert Holden is calling on the city to improve security at public schools in his district after his office was flooded with calls from concerned parents complaining of a homeless man harassing students around P.S./I.S. 87 in Middle Village last week.
Holden met with Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman and his officers from the 104th Precinct at the school as well as concerned parents and residents on Sept. 19 before speaking with officials from Westhab, the service provider that operates the Cooper Rapid Rehousing Center, the homeless shelter for men located at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale.
“We understand he was denied access because he violated curfew. That’s what we were told by the shelter leadership,” Holden told QNS following the emergency meeting. “He was hanging around P.S. 87, which is in K to eighth grade, for several days. This guy has been chased away from the area and then we alerted the Department of Homeless Services who sent a team of security people.”
The man has not been seen around the school since and the 104th Precinct has “been stepping up patrols” around the school, Holden said, adding that he wished DHS had been more forthcoming with information about the man.
“We couldn’t get his name because we wanted to check and see if he was a sex offender. We’re concerned. Why is he hanging around a school all the time, right? DHS wouldn’t release that information,” Holden said. “OK, I said if you’re not going to release it to the councilman you should release it to the police who could see if this guy has any kind of past that we should be concerned about.”
QNS reached out to DHS and is awaiting its response. Meanwhile, Holden sent a letter to Mayor Eric Adams urging the city to increase security measures at public schools following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and has not heard back.
Holden is calling for front doors to be locked and buzzer systems installed at public schools to prevent incidents like the Sept. 15 situation at P.S. 28 in Corona, where an emotionally disturbed 18-year-old man walked through an open front door and became “agitated and combative” with school staff as he attempted to harm himself. Principal Robert Quintana jumped into action to protect his school community.
“Luckily, Principal Quintana, who used to be the principal over here in Glendale, knew the martial arts jiujitsu and he overcame the intruder,” Holden said. “Every time we hear this stuff we get concerned and the parents are always on edge about security. It’s worth noting that in the hero principal at P.S. 28, that guy got into the school before security could do anything, he ran right through an open door and that’s the wrong thing.”
Holden also sent a letter to Schools Chancellor David Banks on Sept. 21 . He said if he doesn’t hear back soon, he will demand a face-to-face meeting on the “urgent matter,” and demand increased security at city schools.
“Especially in today’s world,” Holden said. “You know it’s a very different world than when I went to school.”