Tag Archives: Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott

Majority of Queens schools score well on progress reports


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


The majority of Queens schools scored high on the Department of Education’s (DOE) recently released progress reports.

Out of the 62 Queens high schools that were issued 2012-2013 progress reports, 31 earned As, 16 Bs, 6 Cs, 5 Ds and 4 Fs.

The highest scoring institution was Long Island City’s Academy for Careers in Television and Film, which just moved into a new building at the beginning of this school year. It received an overall score of 100.9.

Flushing High School, Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School in Far Rockaway and August Martin High School in Jamaica earned overall failing grades.

Progress reports were issued for 239 Queens elementary and middle schools. Fifty-eight of them earned As, 97 Bs, 74 Cs, nine Ds and only one, Springfield Gardens’ Community Voices Middle School, failed.

Waterside School for Leadership in Rockaway was the highest ranking Queens middle school, with an overall score of 90.3, and P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens was the top-rated elementary school in the borough, with an overall score of 86.5.

Across the city, the DOE found public school performance “remained consistent, with 87 percent of schools maintaining their grade or moving one grade compared to last year.”

The reports are based on students’ progress, performance, attendance and surveys of parents, students and teachers. High school progress reports also measure college and career readiness.

According to the DOE, more students are graduating from high school ready for college and careers.

The reports found that the four-year college readiness rate is up nearly 3 points since last year.

“The most important job of our schools is ensuring students are on track to succeed in college and their careers,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “These results are further evidence that the hard work of our teachers and principals is paying off.”

This year’s school progress reports were the last ones issued during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure.

They could see some changes when they are issued under the Bill de Blasio administration.

“While Mayor-elect de Blasio supports making overall school progress reports available to parents, he would eliminate letter grades of schools which offer little real insight to parents and are not a reliable indicator of how schools are actually performing,” his spokesperson Lis Smith said.

To find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.

 

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New state-of-the-art school facility opens in Long Island City


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo By Angy Altamirano

The students of Long Island City’s P.S./I.S. 78 will now have a new place to learn and grow.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott met with local elected officials, parents, students and school leaders on September 12 to cut the ribbon on the new, state-of-the-art building, located at 46-08 5th Street, which will house P.S./I.S. 78 and P.S. 277-The Riverview School. The facility opened for the first day of school on September 9 and will serve a total of 578 students.

“This building offers P.S./I.S. 78 a state-of-the-art facility for the school to grow and prepare students for the older grades and for college and a career,” said Walcott.

P.S./I.S. 78 is expanding from its original site at 48-09 Center Boulevard, only a few blocks. Grades pre-kindergarten through second will remain at the original spot and students in third to sixth grades will move to the new facility, which later will include seventh and eighth grades.
P.S. 277 is a District 75 school serving special education students.

“We are delighted with the new building and know our A school will continue to offer the best education for our students,” said P.S./I.S. 78 Principal Louis Pavone. “We take pride in providing state-of-the-art online learning, and now we have a new building to complement the students’ skills.”

The new five-story building is fully air-conditioned and accessible for students with disabilities. It features 21 standard classrooms, eight special education classrooms, an art room, speech room, music suite, two science labs, a library, gym, auditorium, cafeteria, kitchen and outdoor playground.

“As Long Island City continues the growth that comes with being New York City’s hottest neighborhood, we must ensure that our schools and other infrastructure keep up,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “The opening of the new and improved P.S./I.S. 78 is a landmark event that represents a big step in that direction.”

The new facility was part of an effort by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer to help the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education secure five new school sites within western Queens. All the sites are expected to be fully operational over the next four years.

“Our children deserve the best we can possibly provide for them and this new facility promises to have a positive impact on the education our children will receive for generations to come,” said Van Bramer. “The expansion of P.S./I.S. 78 and creation of P.S. 277 in Long Island City will provide hundreds of students with a state-of-the-art facility right in the heart of a vibrant neighborhood that has become home to thousands of new families.”

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

 

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Hunter’s Point South school building opens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/

Lights, camera, action on the new school year and the opening of a brand new school building in Long Island City.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott met with local elected officials, representatives and school leaders on Monday to take a tour of the new Hunter’s Point Campus, located at 1-50 51st Avenue, on the first day of classes.

During the walk through the building, Walcott visited a special education, middle school and high school classroom to meet with students and view their lessons.

“The Hunter’s Point Campus offers a state-of-the-art facility for students and staff,” said Walcott. “There are brand new science rooms at the middle school and students at the Academy for Careers in Television and Film have a unique vista of Manhattan from the building’s terrace that will help them perfect their filming and editing skills.”

The new school is part of the Hunter’s Point South development project which broke ground in March on the first phase of construction and opened the Hunter’s Point South Park last month. The building houses a middle school, with 12 classrooms and two special education classrooms, and The Academy for Careers in Television and Film high school, which made its move from 36-41 28th Street in Long Island City. With both schools, the building has a capacity of 1,071 students.

My whole school community,parents, students and staff alike were just blown away to come here every morning,” said Edgar  Rodriguez, principal of the Academy for Careers in Television and Film high school. “The kids are extremely happy, the staff had an amazing day. Everything turned out quite positive.”

The campus has a shared gymnasium, separate boys’ and girls’ locker rooms for both schools, a library, auditorium, tech center, speech room, cafeteria, full sized kitchen, art room, music room, science lab, prep lab, science demo rooms and resource rooms.

“We started from the bottom and now we’re here,” said high school senior Brandon Bass, 17, from Jamaica.

The high school now has 14 standard classrooms, two special educations classrooms and a student general store.

“The new school is nice, it’s awesome,” said senior Justin Bruggemann, 18, from Flushing. “I love it. I’m excited for the school year.”

Walcott also participated in a practice filming session with the students on the school’s fourth floor balcony which overlooks the Manhattan skyline.

“It feels great, it’s a big change. It’s all brand new,” said senior Lesley Ptacek, 16, from Jackson Heights. “It’s great we’re meeting the Chancellor and showing him what we have learned.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Monday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 81. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph. Monday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 72. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Free screening of Despicable Me at Astoria Park

Central Astoria Local Development Coalition Inc. presents movie night on the Astoria Park Great Lawn. The free screening of Despicable Me will start at 8:30 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Pregnant woman killed by falling tree in Kissena Park

A pregnant woman died after she was hit by a falling tree in Kissena Park this evening, cops said. Read more: The Queens Courier

Bayside man arrested after taking his girlfriend hostage

Police arrested a Bayside man early this morning after he took his girlfriend hostage in his home and refused to surrender to cops for hours. Read more: The Queens Courier

Project adds 600,000 cubic yards of sand to help Rockaway Beach

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CBS: No negotiations taking place with Time Warner

CBS says there are currently no negotiations taking place with Time Warner Cable, which stopped carrying the network in New York and other markets on Friday in a spat over fees. Read more: NBC New York

New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott warns that release of 2012 state and math test scores will show sharp declines

City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott warned Sunday that state reading and math test scores to be released this week will drop sharply because of tougher new exams. Read more: New York Daily News

State Dept: Posts in 19 countries to remain closed

Amid online “chatter” about terror threats, U.S. diplomatic posts in 19 cities in the Muslim world will be closed at least through the end of this week, the State Department said. Read more: AP

Howard Beach school without fire alarm system since Sandy


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

The Howard Beach community and concerned parents are tired of dealing with a hot issue at local school P.S. 207.

When Sandy swept through the region, it took the school’s fire alarm system with it. Since reopening on January 2, the school has operated without any fire alarm.

“First their homes are destroyed, now they don’t even have a safe place to go to school,” said Alison Jasiak, whose six-year-old son attends P.S. 207.

The fire alarm system was located in the basement, unlike surrounding schools that have theirs on the first floor. During the storm, the basement filled with oil and water, destroying P.S. 207’s system.

Moreover, P.S. 207’s fire alarm system used parts that are now obsolete. Other neighborhood schools had newer systems for which replacement parts are available.

Since the school reopened, it has had 12 Fire Watch guards provided by the Department of Education (DOE) to monitor the building for any signs of smoke. A spokesperson said relying on the guards is “an acceptable practice, and the school is safe.”

However, parents such as Jasiak remain unconvinced.

“Who says the fire guards are sufficient?” she said. “Is your child in the school?”

In the event a watchman smells or sees any sort of fire, procedure calls for him or her to go to the main office, which then calls the fire department.

“You’ve just wasted three or four minutes when the kids could have already been on their way out,” Jasiak said.

The School Construction Authority (SCA) and the DOE are waiting for FEMA funds to install a fire system, but there is no timetable for the money.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich sent a letter on Friday, July 19 to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and SCA President Lorraine Grillo describing the issue in detail and requesting that the organizations expedite the installation of a new fire alarm system. He has not yet received a response.

“With all that my constituents have going on while they try to rebuild from Sandy, they should at least have the peace of mind that the school their child attends has a functional fire alarm system,” Ulrich said.

His office has received numerous complaints on the matter from parents.

Once installation begins, completion could take up to a year, Ulrich said. The DOE said FEMA is reviewing the cost of reimbursing a replacement alarm system at P.S. 207 and that more information will be available once the review is complete. The Fire Watch costs roughly $13,000 per week.

Without a fire alarm system, the school has shut down afterschool and night programs.

“There are so many more issues that this one issue has created,” Jasiak said. “The only ones who are suffering are the children and us.”

“You throw your hands up in the air because you don’t know what else to do,” she said.

 

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Martin Van Buren to get $4M in School Improvement Grants


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A struggling Queens Village school will get more than $4 million in federal funds to bounce back this fall.

Martin Van Buren High School and 21 others in the city were awarded $74.2 million in School Improvement Grants (SIG) to be used over three years, State Education Commissioner John King Jr. announced Friday.

The state’s education department doled out a total of $126 million to 34 low-performing schools throughout New York this year. It was the second round of funding in 2013, though no Queens school was awarded earlier, officials said.

The dollars will go toward implementing “intervention models” in the failing schools, education officials said.

“Many English language learners, students with disabilities and low-income students are in schools that need to change,” King said. “SIG grants can help give those students the opportunity to attend schools that are changing what’s happening in the classroom.”

Van Buren received a C in the city Department of Education’s (DOE) most recent progress report, which is based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests, coursework and student attendance.

Elected officials said morale and grades have been improving under the school’s new principal, Sam Sochet, since he took over last June.

The school was also acknowledged as “developing” during last year’s DOE evaluation, a step above the failing grade “underdeveloped.”

“Our strategy has always been to take action rather than sit idly by,” said city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, “and today’s awards validate our work. [The grants] will support students at schools that are phasing out, provide resources to bolster interventions in schools that are struggling, and help new schools deliver great outcomes.”

Under the designated “transformation model,” Van Buren would have been forced to replace its principal, the state education department said. But since Sochet is new to the helm, that requirement is already satisfied, a city spokesperson said.

However, Van Buren educators, under another condition, will have to follow the state’s approved Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plans.

“Martin Van Buren High School has made huge strides over the year,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin. “This money will go a long way to help put the school in better shape than we are already.”

The DOE recently proposed adding another school inside Van Buren next year, in a move known as co-location, despite protests from Queens lawmakers. They say the move would eliminate 500 existing seats.

“Hopefully, the DOE will realize we can do wonderful things at Martin Van Buren and not worry about co-locating schools in the building,” Weprin said. “It’s already on the way back.”

 

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Martin Van Buren High School co-location met with protest


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The city’s plans to add another school within a struggling Queens Village institution is a “knife in the back” to the community, elected officials said.

“This is the wrong plan at the wrong time, in the wrong place, at the wrong school,” said Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik.

The Department of Education (DOE) has proposed adding a small district high school inside Martin Van Buren High School.

The two schools would share the 230-17 Hillside Avenue building — including its gym, cafeteria and auditorium — in a move increasingly known as co-location.

“We’ve been nationally recognized for our visionary new school models, and this new option replicates those that are in extraordinarily high demand across the city,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia.

“This new school will deliver great outcomes for neighborhood students,” Puglia added. “Parents in this community are clamoring for, and will continue to demand, more high quality options, and we’re going to keep delivering them.”

Queens lawmakers say the new school would eliminate 500 existing seats at Van Buren. They were told the DOE is shooting for a 2014 opening, though the city would have to hold a public hearing beforehand.

“Reducing the seats at Martin Van Buren High School is a slap in the face to our community, which has fought to turn around the school,” said Assemblymember David Weprin. “Now is not the time for the outgoing administration to make this kind of destructive decision.”

Van Buren received a C in the DOE’s most recent progress report, which is based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests, coursework and student attendance. The school improved a full letter grade from the year before.

There is also a new principal, Sam Sochet, who replaced Marilyn Shevell last June. Elected officials said morale and grades have been improving under Sochet.

The school was also acknowledged as “developing” during last year’s DOE evaluation, a step above the failing grade “underdeveloped.”

“What the DOE is proposing could undo all of the progress the administration and teachers have made so far,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin. “Creating a new school will cost millions and may threaten the revitalization of our neighborhood school.”

The councilmember said the community was kept out of the loop during the DOE’s “whisper campaign” to co-locate the school. He said he caught wind of the plans in June.

“In the middle of the night, we get a call saying the DOE is looking to co-locate another school within this building, after all the effort that has been put in to try to fix this school,” he said.

Washington Sanchez, a representative for the United Federation of Teachers, called the move a “sneak co-location.”

“They just want to do it in the heat of the summer, behind closed doors,” he said.

State Senator Tony Avella said the school was on the right track in October 2011 when Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott “did a tour of the school and made all sorts of promises to turn this thing around.”

“Now all of a sudden we get the knife in the back, and that’s what this is,” Avella said. “They’re stabbing us in the back.”

The city’s educational impact statement of the new school is expected to be released late August. Public hearings are likely to be scheduled soon after.

Nearly 3,000 students from ninth to twelfth grade attend Van Buren.

“Changing the school is a big mistake,” said rising senior Harsimranjeet Singh. “There have been a lot of new programs. Grades are going higher now. Progress will decline.”

 

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Op-Ed: School buildings need adequate funding


| oped@queenscourier.com


BY COUNCILMEMBER JULISSA FERRERAS

Long before I was elected to office, I was the Beacon Program director at P.S. 19 in Corona, known at the time as the most overcrowded school in the country. My years of work engaging our neighborhood children helped me understand the effect of school building conditions on their academic performance.

Because their classrooms were overcrowded, the students received less attention to their individual learning needs and more distraction readily intruded upon their focus. I’ve since learned that overcrowded schools are only part of a bigger problem. Chronic underfunding of our school buildings has left too many of our children learning in less than adequate environments.

Cutbacks in school facilities funding over the years have led to widespread school overcrowding and crumbling schools across aging school buildings in many of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. More schools can relieve the overcrowding, but appropriate funding for their operation and maintenance is necessary to keep them all in good, working order. Our children deserve to learn under the best possible conditions in the greatest city in the world.

I’m proud to say I’ve launched an Education Task Force with the help of Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, the School Construction Authority and our community partners to not only improve communication between our schools and parents, but also advocate for better funding of our school facilities and develop long-term solutions.

New York City spends a smaller percentage of its total education budget on building maintenance and operations than most other large school districts in the country, and the percentage of the city’s education budget dedicated to facilities keeps shrinking by millions of dollars, according to a report published in early May by 32BJ SEIU. The union represents 5,000 public school cleaners and handypersons.

According to that report, there are thousands of open building code violations in hundreds of school buildings across the city. As these violations are repaired, the number of building code violations changes, but there seems to be a constant and exorbitant number of them left unaddressed. I worry that in overcrowded schools, the large student populations place an overwhelming demand on dwindling resources and supplies, exacerbating school conditions at a rapid pace.

When toilets don’t work or the heat doesn’t stay on, we place an undue burden on our children and it falls disproportionately on poorer neighborhoods. These are basic things that any one of us would take care of in the privacy of our own home, and the city needs to give the same priority to these issues at our children’s schools. This should increase the urgency of our endeavor.

The City of New York and the Department of Education must allocate sufficient funding to address these problems in our school buildings. School cleaners and handypersons need the right resources and manpower to keep school buildings operating. And just as years of advocacy by parents, students and community organizations got the city to cut the timeline in half to remove toxic PCBs from public school lights, we must focus as a community on the improvement of our children’s school buildings and give them the learning environment they deserve.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. She is the Chair of the Women’s Issues Committee and is a member of the Committees on Parks and Recreation, Civil Rights, Consumer Affairs, Economic Development, Finance and Health.

 

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Walcott addresses overcrowding in Corona school


| lguerre@queenscourier.com


Parents and teachers at P.S. 143, the Louis Armstrong School, are overwhelmed by overcrowding and are clamoring for a solution.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott addressed the issue in a tense June 24 meeting in which parents and school officials were fuming over the two-decade-long problem.

The Corona elementary school has a capacity of 900 students, yet 1,780 students are currently enrolled, according to school officials.

In front of the main building on 34th Avenue between 112th and 113th Streets, there are four large, trailer-like classrooms.

“If they build a building outside for us, it will alleviate the overcrowding in here,” said Alma Salgado, president of the P.S. 143 Parent Teacher Association.

However, Walcott was cautious about such an approach.

“As soon as we build, we need to build more in district 24,” he said.

Parents said that the overcrowding has led to classrooms with 30 and sometimes more students. Some students have to eat lunch as early as 9:30 a.m., while others have classes in the cafeteria because of scheduling conflicts.

“It’s a hurdle that we have to jump over,” said first-year principal Jerry Brito. “It is obviously an issue we have to be aware of, because it does make it harder for us to run things.”

To address the overcrowding, the Department of Education leased space owned by a Greek Orthodox church on 38th Avenue. The site, about a dozen blocks away from P.S. 143, has accommodated 250 students.

The agreement was extended through the 2013-2014 school year. However, the property’s owners do not want to renew the lease for the 2014-2015 school year.

Before he left the meeting, Walcott said he will continue to look for a solution. He added that in three weeks, he will send an update to the school administrators to relay to parents.

 

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NYC pilot to extend school day for sixth graders


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Johann Hamilton

The last bell will ring two and a half hours later for 2,000 of the city’s sixth graders starting this fall.

A pilot program will provide additional literacy training at 20 middle schools with high-needs students, including five in Queens, according to the Department of Education (DOE).

The schools are also part of a 40-school expansion of the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI), which provides extensive literary instruction in grades six through eight.

“We are committed to ensuring that all students are prepared for college and 21st century careers, and the Middle School Quality Initiative has been central to this mission,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The Queens schools participating in the pilot are P.S./I.S. 116 William C. Hughley in Jamaica, Waterside School for Leadership in Rockaway, P.S. 043 in Far Rockaway, Queens United Middle School in Springfield Gardens and Village Academy in Far Rockaway.

The $6.2 million for the MSQI expansion comes from the City Council and DOE along with contributions from the Robin Hood Foundation, a nonprofit that helps fight poverty, and other groups.

“We are confident that a daily dose of extra tutoring for students struggling with English language arts will significantly increase students’ ability to comprehend at [their] grade level across all subjects,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

However, Patricia Simmons, a school aid at P.S./I.S. 116, believes money can be allocated in better ways.

“If they’d just give the schools the supplies they need, then they wouldn’t need to extend the time,” she said. “So many classes don’t have enough textbooks or workbooks.”

Another faculty member was concerned about the age of the students in the program.

“For the little kids, it’ll be too much, but the older ones will be able to handle it,” said a teacher who wanted to remain anonymous.

Tedric Simpson, a former student, also agreed the pilot might be taxing on the sixth graders.

“It’s too much school for one day. They could maybe do it from Monday to Wednesday, but not every day,” she said.

For parents, the benefit went beyond learning.

“Some parents can’t afford babysitters, so the extra hours could be good for them,” said Jean Elie.

With additional reporting by Johann Hamilton

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast in the morning, then mostly cloudy. High of 73. Winds from the NE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the SE in the afternoon. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 59. Winds from the SSE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Long Island City to Old Astoria Guided Walking Tour

Official Queens historian Jack Eichenbaum will lead a walk along the East River between the Queensboro and RFK bridges. Begin at the Queensbridge Houses and head for the remnants of Old Astoria. The sights include increasingly oblique views of Manhattan’s Upper East Side from three parks, a former piano factory, a huge power plant, a big box store, the Socrates Sculpture Park, the Isamu Noguchi Museum and ante-bellum mansions. End in Astoria at the Bohemian Hall beer garden. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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Leroy Comrie includes new subway for Queens among list of projects and priorities he would champion as borough president

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Expired milk, muffins served to Queens elementary school students

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Walcott raked over the coals at City Council budget hearing

New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott met with some angry and hostile comments Tuesday, as he testified at a budget hearing before the City Council Finance and Education committees. Read more: CBS New York

New York attorney general presses smartphone manufacturers to allow consumers to shut down stolen devices

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 House panel to address sexual assaults in military

Lawmakers outraged by sexual assaults in the military are moving swiftly to address the problem, tackling legislation that would strip commanders of their authority to overturn convictions in rape and assault cases. Read more: AP

‘How many victims?’: Community mourns Queens teen found dead after alleged cyber-bullying


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

A young girl took her own life after she was reportedly cyber-bullied.

“This is a little girl, an angel who’s shouting for help,” said Glenda Molina, mother of Gabrielle Molina, 12. “She wants to have peace.”

Media reports said Molina was bullied by her classmates at I.S. 109 and that on Wednesday, May 22, she hung herself in her bedroom.

“We are deeply saddened by [this] death,” said Principal Karleen Adam-Comrie.

Police have classified the incident as a suicide in the ongoing investigation.

Friends of the girl told the New York Daily News that Molina got into a fistfight with another girl, which was videotaped and posted on YouTube, and that Molina had a history of cutting herself. Her mother told the paper other students called Molina derogatory names.

“How many victims of bullying should come so that nobody gets bullied anymore?” Anastasia Katayeva wrote on a Facebook page dedicated both to Molina’s memory and to ending cyber-bullying.

Others wrote that Molina’s bullies should be brought to justice and the world is a sadder place without her in it.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott visited the Queens Village school after the incident. He also spoke with Molina’s parents. The school has set up a crisis team to offer counseling to students and staff.

The Department of Education did not comment on grounds the incident is a police matter.

 

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Community board chair fires back at Walcott over school employee threats


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The city’s schools chancellor chastised a community board leader after residents allegedly threatened his employees at a rowdy Bayside meeting last week.

“I would never allow anyone to be treated in this manner and would expect that you have the same standard,” Dennis Walcott said.

The head of the city’s public education system expressed his “extreme dismay” at a heated Community Board 11 meeting last Monday, when one male and one female resident allegedly verbally threatened two School Construction Authority (SCA) officials.

An older man approached Chris Persheff, the SCA’s Queens site selection manager, called him a liar and threatened to break his legs, The Courier reported last week.

After that, an unidentified person allegedly followed Persheff’s partner, Monica Gutierrez, by car until Gutierrez pulled into an empty lot, city reps said.

The SCA officials were pitching a plan to build an elementary school for 416 students at 210-11 48th Avenue when the May 6 meeting grew contentious.

They plan to file a police report and might take legal action against the alleged belligerents, Gutierrez said.
The altercations occurred after the meeting had adjourned.

In a letter, Walcott said Community Board 11 Chair Jerry Iannece “enabled this behavior by not drawing any boundaries to the abuse.”

He said the proposed new school would alleviate overcrowded facilities in the area. But enraged residents said it would destroy their quality of life, worsen parking and traffic congestion and lead to dangerous crossing conditions for students.

Iannece fired back in a letter, defending his decade-long, “impeccable” reputation for fairness and order.

“As an uncompensated volunteer who has spent countless hours for the betterment of my community, I take personal offense by your remarks,” he said. “It is an affront to me and to all community board chairs, [who] do so much for our city.”

The community board’s education committee said bringing P.S. 130 back to their district would relieve area school congestion. The 200-01 42nd Avenue school is located within District 26, but has mostly served students from District 25 for at least two decades.

Moving the school back to its original district has long been deemed unviable by education officials.

Iannece invited the schools chancellor to review the meeting’s recorded minutes, which he said include a “poor presentation” by the SCA officials.

The two residents’ identities were not known as of press time.

“Although I can appreciate your desire to protect the staff,” Iannece said, “misplaced anger, compounded by erroneous accusations, doesn’t help.”

 

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Queens teen wins prestigious math honors


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

At only 14, Jena Yun knows the equation for success.

The 8th grader at Russell Sage Junior High School is captain of the school’s math team and the only New York City public school student in the National Society of Professional Engineers’ National upcoming Mathcounts competition in Washington, D.C.

She is also the only female in the contest.

“I never really expected it to get this far,” said Yun. “I’m definitely nervous.”

After placing fourth at the state Mathcounts competition in Albany, Yun was selected as one of four team members to compete in the national competition taking place May 9-12. She will work with two students from

Rochester and a student from the Bronx.

“It’s just humbling, it’s amazing,” said William Collins, who coaches Russell Sage’s math team. He added that whatever the outcome, “we’re so proud of her.”

On Monday, May 6, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott gave Yun an award for her success at the state competition. She also received a New York City Council Citation of Honor from Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.

“Behind all of it is studying and trying to get where you want,” Yun said. “It all pays off in the end.”

The middle schooler also received a $1,000 scholarship from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for being the first female to qualify in the competition.

“You hear about Russell Sage because it’s such a great school,” said Walcott. “These students are truly outstanding,”

After graduation, Yun will attend the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. She hopes to follow in her older sister’s footsteps by moving on to Princeton University.

Russell Sage’s math team started up 12 years ago with just three students. The team has since become a “family” with over 50 students from all grade levels.

“It’s just awesome,” said Principal Marilyn Grant. “It’s an unimaginable feeling.”

 

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Education task force takes on overcrowding


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


The newly–formed District 21 education task force held is first meeting to discuss concerns such as overcrowding.

On Thursday, April 25, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras gathered with Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, local educators, parents and education advocacy groups at the Langston Hughes Library for the inaugural meeting of the Educational and Overcrowding Improvement Task Force. It is designed to address key issues facing schools in the area.

“With the help of Chancellor Walcott, the School Construction Authority and our community partners, I am happy to say that the task force is here,” Ferreras said. “Not only will it go far in improving communication between our schools and parents, but it will also develop solutions to address some of the long-standing issues our schools are facing.”

Ferreras and elected officials shared details of several goals to improve overcrowding. The goals include more community and parental involvement in rezoning and actively considering capacity in planning for co-locating two or more schools in one building.

Partners in the education task force include members of Community Education Council Districts 24 and 30, representatives from local schools and Parent-Teacher Associations.

Although the first meeting focused on overcrowding, future meetings to be held throughout the year will cover other topics. The ultimate goal is to come up with short- and long-term solutions.

“I look forward to having many more meetings this year and tackling more issues in our schools, such as obesity, safety and after-school programming,” said Ferreras.

 

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