School takes safety measures after fatal stabbing

Abel Cedeno in a selfie portrait from his Facebook page.
Abel Cedeno/Facebook

The Bronx school where a student was fatally stabbed on Wednesday, September 27, took steps in response to the incident to further assure student safety going forward.

Accusations that slaying suspect Abel Cedeno, 18, had been bullied by the victim, Matthew McCree, 15, were under investigation, according to officials.

McCree died from his wounds, and Ariane Laboy, 16, was hospitalized in critical but stable condition, after the stabbing at Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation.

Cedeno appeared in Bronx Criminal Court on Thursday, September 28, to face charges.

“We have additional safety measures and grief counselors in place and will continue to support the school community,” said Carmen Farina, schools chancellor of the NYC Department of Education, in response to an inquiry from the Bronx Times Reporter.

“I have instructed my team to conduct a thorough investigation on all issues, and this is underway,” Farina said in a statement from Toya Holness, press secretary for the Office of Communications and Media Relations.

Farina added that the DOE “takes reports of bullying extremely seriously and have explicit protocols and robust training programs in place to ensure harassment, discrimination or bullying of any kind is immediately reported, investigated and addressed.”

The Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation was started in 2007 by Urban Assembly, a nonprofit organization that runs 21 small schools across the city, serving primarily low-income and academically struggling students.

Following the incident, several elected officials commented about their concerns.

Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda said he was “shocked and saddened at this violence that has taken the life of one student, left another in serious condition and caused the arrest of another at a high school in my Assembly district. My heart goes out to the parents of the teens involved in today’s incident. And my office stands ready to assist in any way we can.”

Parents, Restorative Justice Practitioners, and Parent Action Committee organizers hold a healing circle in the park in front of the Urban Assembly School of Wildlife Conservation on Thursday, September 28. The purpose was to offer parents and community members a space to process their thoughts and feelings in the wake of the tragedy on Wednesday, September 27, and to model the kind of healing circles the group wishes to see inside the school.
Courtesy photo

Sepulveda addressed allegations of bullying leading to the stabbing, saying, “If this is in fact the case, then more needs to be done in our schools system to incorporate classroom teaching on the subject, as well as vigilant early targeting of situations that may exist, with procedures in place to deal with them.”

Sepulveda also noted that he has read of students across the nation committing suicide because they have been the victims of bullying, and said it’s a “shame all around.”

Sepulveda asked parents do their best to be aware if their own child may be experiencing bullying in school, and immediately take steps to contact the school to take aggressive action in dealing with the situation.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. observed that the incident shined a spotlight on two major problems that face our school system.

Diaz opposes age-inappropriate co-locations in schools, such as the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation co-existing with P.S. 67 Mohegan School.

“High school students should not be in the same building as kindergartners, period,” Diaz said.

And he added that the “incident shows us that the scourge of bullying that faces our children must be addressed in a more meaningful and effective way.”

“Today, our borough prays for the victims and their families — as well as the school communities at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife and P.S. 67 — as they cope with the results of this horrible event,” Diaz said.

Reach Reporter Bob Guiliano at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at
Matthew McCree/Facebook

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