Tag Archives: Springfield Gardens

Queens Teaching Aide Charged With Sexual Abuse Of Six Female Students


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens Teaching Aide Charged With Sexual Abuse Of Six Female Students

A full-time paraprofessional working in an art class at P.S. 52 in Springfield Gardens, Queens has been arrested and charged with sexual conduct with six female students. Brett Picou, 30, who worked as a teacher’s aide and a substitute at P.S. 52 since 2008, was awaiting arraignment Thursday on seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse, seven counts of forcible touching, one count of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and six counts of endangering the welfare of a child, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Read More: NY1

 

11 people, including 3 kids, escape from house fires in Queens and Manhattan

Eleven people, including three children, escaped two separate blazes in Queens and downtown Manhattan early Thursday — and one may have been the result of a firebomb. The first fire ignited in a Rockaway Blvd. apartment in South Jamaica just before 3 a.m., and the flames trapped the residents inside their homes. Witnesses later told fire investigators that a Molotov cocktail was tossed near the apartment, setting the home ablaze, sources said. Six people on the second floor suffered minor injuries along with three firefighters who were taken to Jamaica Hospital Center for evaluation, officials said. Read More: Daily News

 

Disgraced former Governor returning to national politics with fund-raiser

The Love Gov is climbing back into bed — with lawmakers. For the first time since a tawdry hooker scandal trashed his political career, Eliot Spitzer is holding a fund-raiser for a politician looking to make a national splash. The former governor is hosting the event at his Fifth Avenue home for Washington state gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee on March 5. Inslee, currently a Democrat in the House of Representatives, shares many of Spitzer’s left-leaning political stances. Insiders believe Spitzer’s soiree shows he’s trying to become a political mover and shaker once again — this time as a national kingmaker. Read More: New York Post

 

Not-so-Finest moment as cop caught napping on F train

A hero cop has been disciplined for catching Z’s on the F rain while armed and in uniform. Officer Matthew Sobota, 43, was caught snoozing on the subway by a straphanger, who snapped photos with his cell phone camera and emailed them to NYPD brass. “I thought maybe a teenager could take (Sobota’s) gun and sell it or use it. I felt like it was a potentially unsafe thing,” said Martin Bisi, 51, of Brooklyn, who took the photos of the sleepy cop on Feb. 16. Read More: Daily News

 

Knicks lose to Heat; Lin plays poorly

Jeremy Lin finally met his match last night, and it was ugly. In by far his worst performance during this 12-game surreal surge, Lin fell apart under the South Beach spotlight and the Knicks caved with him in a disappointing 102-88 loss to the mighty Heat last night at rabid AmericanAirlines Arena. “He can’t be Peter Pan every night,’’ Mike D’Antoni said. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and point guard Mario Chalmers made sure Linsanity calmed down as the Heat (27-7) won their eighth straight game by 12 or more points — one short of an NBA record. Read More: New York Post
19K taxi drivers accused of ripping off passengers won’t face charges

It was one of the biggest scandals in the taxi industry’s history, but nearly 90 percent of the 21,819 cabbies accused of ripping off passengers with inflated fares will get off scot-free, The Post has learned. In a stunning move, the Taxi & Limousine Commission is giving a free ride to 19,515 yellow-cab drivers caught setting their meters to the higher, out-of-town rate while traveling around the city. Overall, officials estimated that unwary passengers were fleeced for $1.1 million between 2008 and 2010. Of that, $238,854 in overcharges was attributed to the cabbies who will escape penalties. Read More: New York Post

Jimmy Fallon sings ode to Knicks guard Jeremy Lin on Late Night

Jeremy Lin’s game has spoken so loudly that comic Jimmy Fallon performed a Pearl Jam parody to honor the Knicks point guard. With a scraggly wig on his head, Fallon sang a tribute to the Harvard grad to the tune of the band’s 1992 hit “Jeremy.” “At home, shooting free throws and three point shots, waiting for a job/name not yet a pun/Carmelo injury,” he croons. “Came out of nowhere like an Asian Tebow.” Read More: Daily News

 

5 injured in Long Island house fire

Authorities on Long Island are investigating an early morning house fire in which five people were injured. Nassau County arson bomb squad detectives say the fire broke out at the Levittown house on Prentice Lane at 12:30 a.m. today. The four occupants — a 46-year-old woman and three 11-year-old children — managed to get out of the house quickly. They suffered smoke inhalation and were transported to a hospital for treatment. Read More: New York Post

Rockaway Park charter school might close


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The final dismissal bell may soon ring for six underperforming charter schools in the city — including one school in Queens.

According to officials, Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School in Rockaway Park joins 46 other struggling schools on the list for potential closures released by the Department of Education (DOE) on November 2. Of the 46 schools facing the ax, 24 are elementary and middle schools, 17 are high schools and six are charter schools.

Schools become candidates for the chopping block if they have warranted a failing grade on the most recent progress report or if they’ve received a “C” for three consecutive years. Schools also qualify for closure if they have received a rating of “Underdeveloped” on the most recent Quality Review or if they were identified as “Persistently Lowest Achieving” (PLA) by the State Education Department.

“The goal of these discussions is to gain a better understanding of where weaknesses in their educational strategy lie and why they are struggling,” said Deputy Schools Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “We’ll take the feedback into consideration as we explore options to improve performance and support student success, and continue to work with all of our schools to ensure that students have access to high quality options.”

According to DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas, Peninsula Preparatory is being considered for closure for many reasons. He said besides the fact that the charter school’s renewal is coming up this year — which puts the school under close examination — Peninsula Preparatory is not on track to meet set goals. He said the school also has a higher than average teacher turnover rate, which means that teachers are frequently leaving the school after brief terms — causing the school to replace teachers often.

Peninsula Preparatory received a “C” on the last two progress reports.

“We’re following our plan of action to improve student achievement, and we’re doing the best that we can,” said Principal Ericka Wala. “We’ll see how it unfolds. I feel good about the progress we’ve made so far.”

The list of schools put on notice has doubled since September, when 20 public elementary and middle schools in the city were targeted for closure, including two elementary schools in Queens — P.S. 215 Lucretia Mott in Woodmere and P.S. 181 Brookfield in Springfield Gardens.

P.S. 215 in Woodmere received an “F” on the most recent progress report and P.S. 181 in Springfield Gardens received a “D.” The schools each performed one grade worse than they did on last year’s progress report. P.S. 215 received a “D” on last year’s report, while P.S. 181 received a “C.”

Soon after September — following the release of high school progress reports — Law, Government and Community Service High School in Cambria Heights also found its way to the constantly-expanding list of schools at risk of termination. The school scored the lowest in the borough this year, with an overall total score of 40.9 percent. It has received a “D” this year and the last, and falls in the bottom 6.7 percentile of city high schools.

But according to DOE officials, decisions to close any school have not been made yet.

For the first time, the DOE has instated an “early engagement process” for charter schools in which DOE and school officials remain in “an ongoing conversation and discussion about areas that schools are doing well in and are not doing well in,” Thomas said.

Any decisions on which schools will close will not come until mid-December at the earliest.

“This isn’t a list of schools to close — it’s just a list of schools that are struggling,” Thomas said. “We take a close look at them to see if they can do better in the future. We always know that they can do better.”

Last year’s list included 12 Queens schools — none of which were closed.

Two Queens schools may be targeted for closure


| brennison@queenscourier.com

A month after new Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott put underperforming middle schools on notice, a list of 20 schools targeted for potential closure was released.

Every school but one on the list received a “D” or an “F” on the school progress reports that were released in September.

Two Queens schools find their name on the list – P.S. 215 Lucretia Mott in Woodmere and P.S. 181 Brookfield in Springfield Gardens.

P.S. 215 in Woodmere received an “F” on the most recent progress report. The other Queens school, P.S. 181 in Springfield Gardens, received a “D.”

Minorities comprise over 96 percent of the student body at each school and 90 percent of the students at P.S. 215 qualify for free lunch.

The schools each performed one grade worse than they did on last year’s progress report. P.S. 215 received a “D” on last year’s report, while P.S. 181 received a “C.”

Though the schools received low grades, parents do not agree they should close.

“[It] is a real good school, they learn a lot there and I don’t think they should close it,” said Mira Calbert, mother of three at P.S. 181.

“I hope they keep it open,” added Paul Munroe, father of two at P.S. 181.

The schools on the list are only in the first stage of evaluations. Any decisions on which schools will close will not come until mid-December at the earliest. An additional list with high schools will be released this month following their progress reports.

Each school on the list will be handled differently, depending on the needs of the school.

“The goal of these discussions is to gain a better understanding of where weaknesses in their educational strategy lie and why they are struggling,” Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg said in a statement.

Schools that are targeted for closure will be phased out and replaced, not closed down completely.

Last year’s list included 12 Queens schools – none of which were closed.

– Additional reporting by Ricky Casiano

School aides protest pink slips


| nkarimi@queenscourier.com

As Local 372 members return to their jobs, bureaucrats at the Department of Education (DOE) are pre¬paring pink slips and layoff notices for nearly 800 school aides.

“During the budget negotiations this June, the Chancellor [Dennis Walcott] called Lillian Roberts [DC 37 executive director] to try to work with DC-37 to avert DOE layoffs. Unfortunately, the union would not agree to any real savings that could have saved these jobs, so schools took a larger budget cut than might have otherwise been necessary, and these layoffs are the result,” said Barbara Morgan, Deputy Press Secretary for the DOE.

In order to protest the loss of jobs for school aides, community coordinators, health aides and family workers, Assemblymember William Scarborough, Local 372, teachers, parents, elected officials and labor leaders gathered in Springfield Gardens at P.S. 15 the Jackie Robinson School, on Friday, September 23.

“Schools cannot afford to lose these workers. They formed a support network with them and in order for teachers to teach they need this network,” said Scarborough.

The protest, which drew about 75 people, was a means to give Mayor Michael Bloomberg a message — “Save Our Schools! Save Our Communities.”

“I am deeply concerned about these planned layoffs. These layoffs have threatened the most vulnerable in our city, many of them single mothers with children, and will have a devastating ripple effect on our economy. They must be rolled back,” said Scarborough.

Job losses will be most felt in areas such as East New York, Brownsville, Williamsburg, Washington Heights, and the South Bronx; places that are already in need of enhanced social services and suffer with higher unemployment rates, according to President of Local 372 Santos Crespo.

Over the course of the past three years, unions and schools have lost more than 1,600 school and health aides, according to Crespo.

“I know the city is planning an ongoing effort to save these jobs, but there are other things they can cut back on instead of laying off these members,” said Scarborough.