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Queens Chronicle

Absent school crossing guards worry parents

NYPD does not post substitutes when school officers take time off

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Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:30 am, Thu Mar 28, 2013.

The intersection of 83rd Street and 153rd Avenue next to PS 232 in Lindenwood may not seem like a busy corner, but it is. The NYPD knows it; otherwise there wouldn’t be a crossing guard assigned to it.

The intersection, which is on the northwest side of the school, is heavily trafficked both by vehicles and pedestrians — mainly schoolchildren walking to and from the building.

But while the intersection is mapped as a T, with 83rd Street — a one-way residential block — ending at 153rd Avenue, the reality is a little bit different.

On the north side of 153rd Avenue is the parking lot for the Lindenwood Shopping Center and the outlet onto 153rd Avenue is in the interchange. The Department of Transportation has no crosswalks or stop signs along 153rd Avenue, just on 83rd Street, and that makes the corner dangerous enough for a crossing guard to be posted there.

But Dale Cuneo, a parent of a student at PS 232, said the crossing guard, whom she knows personally and declined to name, has taken some days off recently to deal with personal issues related to Hurricane Sandy.

“We don’t have a problem with her, or that she is taking off — we understand,” Cuneo explained. “We just want to know why no replacement was posted there.”

PS 232 has two crossing guards, one at the intersection of 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street and the other at 153rd Avenue and 84th Street, one of the busiest intersections in the neighborhood.

Cuneo said the lack of a replacement crossing guard has concerned her, especially after a 6-year-old boy in Harlem was killed by a truck late last month walking to school at an intersection that had a crossing guard. The guard posted there reportedly did not show up for work that morning.

“I’m very worried about the safety of the kids walking to school,” she said. “It’s very dangerous there.”

The crossing guard was not at work last Friday and some parents stepped in, acting as substitutes on 83rd Street.

PS 232 is not the only school where this problem has occurred. Marnie Tannenbaum, parent coordinator at PS 18 in Queens Village, said one of that school’s crossing guards took off last month and she contacted the 105th Precinct, but no substitute was posted.

“No contingency was in order because no replacement was sent,” Tannenbaum said.

The NYPD did not respond to numerous requests for comment, but Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he had not heard that there was an official policy not to assign replacement crossing guards when one calls out sick.

“It’s probably because they don’t have any guards left,” Vallone said. “Every crossing guard they have is out where they deemed necessary.”

He said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly testified before the committee last week that the NYPD has the budget to hire more crossing guards, but is having trouble finding them.

“It’s probably the only place where there’s funding but not enough people,” Vallone explained. “It’s difficult to find people who can work those hours.”

Crossing guards work in the morning when children head to school and in the afternoon at dismissal time.

The NYPD is advertising crossing guard positions, and anyone interested can apply at nyc.gov/nypd in the Careers section.

According to the department, crossing guards are needed in the 104th, 106th, 107th, 109th, 110th and 112thPrecincts.

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