Chancellor axes principal from Urban Wildlife school

Abel Cedeno/Facebook

Principal Astrid Jacobo has been removed from the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation a month after a student fatally stabbed another student during a classroom confrontation.

“After a careful review, I have decided to select a new principal to lead the school and ensure an inclusive learning environment for all students,” NYC schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said, according to Toya Holness, press secretary at the NYC Department of Education.

Farina said that she “visited Wildlife several times, meeting with staff and families, and will continue to closely monitor and support the community.”

With Jacobo reassigned elsewhere, Farina has requested Superintendent Fred Walsh to work with the school community to select a new principal and support the school during the transition.

Staff from the Field Support Center and the superintendent’s office went to the school Monday, October 30, to provide additional support, according to Holness.

Abel Cedeno, 18, was indicted on manslaughter charges in the fatal stabbing of Matthew McCree, 15, on Wednesday, September 27, in front of a history class filled with students and two teachers.

Cedeno also stabbed a second classmate, Ariane Laboy, 16, who had allegedly joined McCree in assaulting Cedeno after Cedeno complained that someone had thrown pencils at him.

Laboy survived. Neither teacher intervened during the fight.

These latest developments have occurred just after a community town hall meeting was held on Wednesday, October 25, at the New Settlement Community Campus’s school auditorium, 1501 Jerome Avenue.

Up to 75 parent and youth members of the New Settlement Parent Action Committee, along with Bronx educators and community advocates, attended the meeting to advocate for more DOE-employed social workers in School District 9.

NSPAC organized the meeting to raise awareness about the lack of social, emotional, and mental health resources in their high-needs Bronx school district, according to Eliana Machefsky, NSPAC’s school safety organizer.

NSPAC is based in School District 9, which neighbors the Urban Assembly School’s District 12 to the southwest.

District 9 saw a similar incident in June 2014, when one middle school student fatally stabbed his classmate on the sidewalk outside of their school building after enduring alleged bullying.

Members of NSPAC maintain that without adequate de-escalation training, positive discipline practices, and social workers, schools will not be able to guarantee student safety, according to Machefsky.

“Metal detectors might prevent knives from getting into the school building, but we know that they won’t do anything to resolve conflict and actually make schools safe,” said DeJohn Jones, a member of NSPAC with children in both District 9 and District 12 schools.

“The tragic stabbing in June 2014 proves that metal detectors at the school entrance are not going to protect our kids. We need social workers and we need to prevent bullying,” Jones said.

According to the National Association of Social Workers, the recommended ratio of social workers to students in a high-needs district like District 9 is 1 to 50, according to Machefsky.

The current ratio of DOE-employed social workers to students in District 9 is 1 to 589.

Reach Reporter Bob Guiliano at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at
Matthew McCree in a selfie portrait from his Facebook page.
Matthew McCree/Facebook

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