Tag Archives: P.S. 134

New school opening in St. Albans

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office Of Councilmember Leroy Comrie

A new elementary school is coming to St. Albans to help alleviate overcrowding in the neighborhood’s existing schools.

The current St. Pascal Baylon Roman Catholic Church on 112th Avenue is being renovated into the new school, P.S. 892, and will welcome about 380 students.

“Once P.S. 892 opens, it will help relieve the overcrowding currently taking place at P.S. 118 and P.S. 134, while helping to ensure our youth have the resources to learn and be successful in the future,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who advocated for the renovation.

The abandoned church was once home to the Police Athletic League where they were able to provide various youth services to the community. However, after the group left the building, residents grew concerned not only that there would be a decrease in resources for their young people, but also that the site would be negative on the community, Comrie said.

But the new school is on its way. Once the $19 million renovation is complete, estimated to be by July 2014, students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade will walk through the doors and head to one of the 13 standard classrooms, two pre-kindergarten rooms or two special education classrooms.

It will also have a gym, science/art resource room, music suite, library, cafeteria, kitchen and an outdoor playground.

The building will additionally be equipped with wireless routers and LAN lines for Internet access, as well as interactive white boards in the classrooms.

An opening date has not yet been decided but is projected for 2015.

“We’re working hard as we can to work with and deliver for this community, and the new school reflects our efforts,” said a Department of Education spokesperson. “Anytime we open a new school, we’re confident it will achieve great outcomes for kids. When we can do it in a new building, even better.”



Kids made cards for inmate

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

The Department of Education (DOE) is determined to dismiss a teacher who had her fifth grade students send Christmas cards to a felon caught possessing child pornography.

According to a report issued by Richard Condon, the city’s special commissioner of investigation, Melissa Dean, a 31-year-old educator at P.S. 143 in Corona, had her students send handmade holiday cards to John Coccarelli, her friend and alleged boyfriend.

Coccarelli, who is currently serving a one-to-three-year sentence for carrying a loaded firearm and violating an Order of Protection, was charged in 2008 with one count of “possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child” – a floppy disk with roughly 30 sexually explicit photos of underage children – according to the Nassau district attorney’s office. In addition, approximately 20 sexually explicit images of underage children were found on Coccarelli’s laptop. He was ultimately not convicted in relation to the charge.

Dean did not ask permission from students’ parents or the school, and officials claim the teacher encouraged the children to write personal information on the cards, including their names and addresses. The teacher also printed the name of each student on the back of their card.

“You are sending the names and addresses of children to a penitentiary to go to a prisoner, but that doesn’t mean they won’t end up going to other people,” said Condon. “It unnecessarily endangers these children.”

The report also claims the teacher included cards from her and her daughter with the bunch, signing hers “Wifey.”

Despite Dean’s efforts to reach her “hubby,” the cards were intercepted by a correctional officer in charge of security at Groveland, who then called P.S. 134’s principal.

When questioned by the principal, Dean admitted to being friends with Coccarelli and believed her gesture was “a nice thing to do.”

Based on documentation from Groveland, Dean has called Coccarelli 327 times and visited him on 11 different occasions during his sentence thus far – with their latest meeting occurring November 19.

The Courier was unable to reach Dean for comment.

According to a spokesperson for the DOE, Dean has been reassigned out of classroom, and the department is seeking her termination.

A spokesperson for the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) declined to comment, citing that the investigation was ongoing.

Upon conducting interviews with Dean’s students, officials learned the teacher told the fifth graders their cards would be sent to patients in hospitals, lonely people without families or the homeless.

“We recommend that she be terminated,” Condon said. “We found that she did not get any of the parents’ permission to send these cards, she misled the children about who these cards were going to and put the children’s names on the cards. She did not have the right to do that.”

The incident has outraged many parents across the borough, who are now calling for Dean’s discharge. “The teacher should be fired immediately,” said Jose Membreno, whose granddaughter attends an elementary school in Corona. “When it comes to a child, it’s inappropriate. A child will listen to an adult, and the teacher knows why he was behind bars. This shows me that the teacher herself might have a problem.”

Additional reporting by David Beltran