The two Jamaica students found carrying loaded guns into school last week is part of a growing trend of young pupils bringing weapons with them, a report by Families for Excellent Schools found.
According to the education advocacy group, which cited NYPD statistics, 1,678 weapons were recovered in public schools last year, a big jump from the 1,347 found the year before.
“Between alarming increases in weapons recovered, violent incidents, and abusive teachers, New York City is in the midst of a crisis of school violence and Mayor de Blasio is choosing to ignore parents,” Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of Families for Excellent Schools, said in a statement last Friday. “Mayor de Blasio’s refusal to confront the epidemic of violence in our schools is putting families across the city at risk.”
The report shows an increase in the recovery of every weapon, ranging from firearms to boxcutters. For guns, 13 were recovered last year compared to 10 in 2014; tasers and stunguns jumped from 4 to 62; BB guns jumped from 76 to 78; boxcutters from 488 to 497; and “Other Weapons” from 122 to 155. The biggest increase was in the recovery of knives, which jumped from 647 to 873.
Schools in Queens are not exempt from the recent uptick, the report states.
According to data given to the Queens Chronicle by Families for Excellent Schools, a weapon was recovered from a student in the borough every 17 days on average during 2015. Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village had the most frequent occurrences, with a weapon being found, on average, every 11 school days.
Families for Excellent Schools is demanding de Blasio take action on the spike of weapons being brought into educational facilities.
A Department of Education spokeswoman said in an email, “Schools must be safe havens for students, staff and families and there is absolutely zero-tolerance for any weapons in schools.
“We work in close partnership with NYPD and there are clear protocols in place to address any incidents swiftly to ensure the safety of all school communities,” the spokeswoman added.
The most recent discoveries of weapons in schools have sparked Community Education Council 28 to host a special meeting today, March 24, at its 90-27 Sutphin Blvd. office at 7 p.m. to discuss the issue of school safety.
“We wanted to hear the community’s response and what they want us to do,” Maria Kaufer, second vice president of CEC 28, said. “We felt it was important to have this meeting right away.”
Kaufer, when asked about Families for Excellent Schools’ most recent report, said she had not heard any talk about more weapons being found in schools and that she was taken aback by the two incidents.
She added she’s expressed safety concerns about York Early College Academy, the facility where the second gun was found last week, such as the lack of a playground fence. The CEC will be reaching out to the Parks Department to address that issue, Kaufer said.
Another representative for Southeast Queens said she, too, had not heard any concerns over weapons being recovered from schools prior to last week.
“I haven’t heard anything,” Adrienne Adams, chairwoman for Community Board 12 and its former Education Committee head, said in a wide-ranging interview with the Chronicle about her campaign for state Sen. James Sanders Jr.’s (D-South Ozone Park) seat.
Adams, who said she would seek to work on education issues if elected to the Senate, said she has also not heard of any increase in violence in schools, a phenomenon that the Families for Excellent Schools put out a report on last week.
At least two people said while the report’s numbers may be accurate, it was put out with a political purpose.
Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), chairman of the Council’s Education Committee, blasted Families for Excellent Schools for putting out negative reports about public schools, but failing to show an increase in violence at charter schools.
“They’ve had a much bigger increase,” Dromm said in a Tuesday interview.
The councilman pointed to an op-ed by United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew that showed, using the same numbers the advocacy group used for their report, that charter schools have a much higher incidence of weapon recovery and drug possession and the number of violent incidents in those facilities jumped 54 percent from 2014 to 2015, compared to the 23 percent increase in public schools.
“Why don’t they ever talk about charter schools?” Dromm asked.
He also said it wasn’t a coincidence that the report was released the same week as the two gun recoveries.
Community Board 9 Education Committee Chairman Seth Wellins asked the same question.
“They’re always pro-charter school,” Wellins said.
Wellins said he had not heard of any uptick in violence or weapons being found in schools throughout the district or in Richmond Hill High School.
According to the report, Richmond Hill High School had a weapon recovered every 18 school days on average in 2015.
“If anything, I thought they were down,” Wellins said about the school.
Mayor de Blasio visited the high school last year and reported that violent incidents were decreasing ever since it was named a Renewal School, an initiative launched by the city to provide additional resources to struggling institutions.