Last week’s altercation on the fifth floor of Long Island City High School, which left one student in the hospital with a stab wound in his back, has frayed the nerves of many students and their parents.
“Towards the end of seventh period, a broadcast came over the system telling everyone to stay in their classrooms and not leave,” said Chris, a sophomore at L.I.C High School. “We all knew something was going on.”
According to the NYPD, four Queens teenagers – 19-year-old Louis Giron, 18-year-old Daniel Nicholas, 17-year-old Jerome Davis and a 15-year-old unknown Hispanic male – have been arrested and charged with gang assault and harassment for stabbing a 16-year-old schoolmate at approximately 12:50 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21.
“The fact that someone got heated and stabbed somebody doesn’t surprise me,” Chris continued. “I’m aware that there are violent people in the school, and I’m aware that there is gang activity in the school. I’m surprised it took this long for something like this to happen.”
Other students are now gripped by debilitating fear each time they walk the halls of their high school.
“I don’t feel safe at all,” said Diriana, a senior who believes the school is grossly disorganized. “I’m scared because the kid could have stabbed me and others also. He was on the fifth floor and so was I. I definitely don’t feel safe, and I’m looking into transferring to another school.”
According to a survey conducted by the New York City Department of Education (DOE), 34 percent of responding students said they do not feel safe in the school, and 69 percent said gang activity occurs. Eighty-three percent also said students are threatened or bullied by schoolmates, and 93 percent said students get in physical fights at school.
When asked if students are “harassed or threatened based on race, color, creed, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation or disability,” 68 percent of students answered in the affirmative.
While the attack has been cause for concern for many, the school’s faculty is remaining calm due to the unprecedented nature of the occurrence.
“It’s an isolated incident,” said a current teacher at the high school, who says she feels safe at work. “It could happen anywhere in the nation. For the most part, security is good, and it is a safe environment.”
Despite the assurances of the administration, some parents are not convinced their children are being properly protected.
“The school’s security should be more aware,” said Segundo, the parent of a freshman at L.I.C. “I’ve seen that sometimes they don’t really check kids when they go to school. They just let them in. I don’t think security is doing a good job. They need to get more serious. I told my son to be more aware, and not to get involved in anything, because there are gangs here. I’m definitely going to be more on top of things and make sure I’m around.”
L.I.C received an overall grade of C on its most recent progress report, placing it in the bottom third of city high schools. The school’s graduation rate is roughly 60 percent, falling below the citywide average. According to published reports, the city considered closing L.I.C last year, but chose instead to allocate $5 million in federal funds to a three-year plan aimed at saving the troubled school.