Stakeholders meet DOE on Lehman Educational Campus, DOE to develop safety plan

Senator Jeff Klein (r) and Councilman James Vacca at the CB 10 office on Friday, January 8.
Photo courtesy of Senator Jeff Klein

The recent wave of disorder at the Lehman Educational Campus appears to be getting under control.

Department of Education brass met with stakeholders, including elected officials, Community Board 10, the 45th Precinct and parents on Friday, January 8 to discuss the chaos that has engulfed the building’s six high schools near Westchester Square since December.

After massive police intervention, the DOE is now taking steps to correct the situation, including having students check their cellphones at the door.

This comes after a beefed up NYPD presence, arrests of youth for pulling false fire alarms and a stabbing incident.

The incidents have disrupted the Westchester Square Business Improvement District.

Merchants have had to close their doors early due to marauding students engaging in gang-related street fights since December 9.

Senator Jeff Klein, a meeting attendee, called the conference an important one given the recent events at the Lehman.

“I am not pleased that it was able to go this far without (DOE) action,” he said.

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto also agreed that action needs to be taken within the school and in the surrounding area.

“This is very disturbing, we have to come to grips with the problem – the incidents that have occurred at Lehman in the past few weeks,” he said. “I am happy the school has taken measures, like the blue dye on the fire alarms to thwart false alarms.”

Councilman James Vacca, who also attended the meeting, said that what the school needs is security, programming, cooperation, responsibility and accountability.

“We cannot ask pretty please, there must be a penalty for bad behavior,” said Vacca.

DOE Chancellor Carmen Farina will be formulating a plan in the next two weeks, he said.

Both the assemblyman and the councilman thanked 45th Precinct Captain Danielle Raia for her handing of the incidents at Lehman.

Lisa Sorin, Westchester Square BID executive director, said that the merchants are waiting to see the results of the DOE initiatives.

“The right people were at the table and we know that the chancellor has visited the school with no prior notification,” she said, adding that the creation of a new safety, security and campus operations director at Lehman reporting directly to DOE’s upper echelons is a positive development.

She said that Ramon Garcia Jr., NYPD’s School Safety Division director of patrol operations, has agreed to go door-to-door in Westchester Square and speak to merchants about the situation.

Meanwhile, more details have emerged about the stabbing incident in Westchester Square at Benson Street on Monday, January 4.

A 16-year-old was walking with his 17-year-old girlfriend when eight teenagers, two of whom were arrested shortly afterwards, assaulted him near a McDonald’s restaurant on Lane Street, according to police sources.

Police arrested Michael Ortiz, 16, and a 15-year old juvenile offender.

Both were subsequently charged, according to a complaint report, with attempted murder, assault, gang assault, menacing, harassment and criminal possession of a weapon.

According to a police source, the victim is expected to recover, and it also appears that the location of the assault might have been selected to avoid the increased police presence around the Lehman campus.

The victim suffered four stab wounds, including a punctured lung, and was kicked and stomped.

Additional reporting by Steven Goodstein.

Reach Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Reach Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599.

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