Nelson, Other Elected Officials Debate Truancy Center With DOE

(Thursday, October 11th, 2012)

Elected officials of South Brooklyn met with the Department of Education yesterday to protest a newly opened Truancy Processing Center located at Ocean Ave and Ave M. Among those in attendance were Councilman Michael C. Nelson; his Chief of Operations, Chaim Deutsch; Assembly Members Dov Hikind & Helene Weinstein; Councilman David Greenfield’s Chief of Staff, Jane Tarey; a representative of local girl’s school, Shaare Torah; as well as Deputy Chancellor of the DOE, Kathleen Grimm.

For those unfamiliar with DOE’s protocol, truants found in areas near their school will be escorted back to school. In most other cases though, depending on location, students will be taken to the new Center or the current one in Bushwick. Their parents will be notified and requested to pick up their children by 1:00 PM. However, at that time, with most parents working, the students will be released into the neighborhood. This is a cause of great concern among local schools, residents and storeowners.

When the original proposal first broke, local elected officials were outraged that the Department of Education did not consult with them or the local community board throughout the decision-making process. Tempers have subsided since the two sides met and a resolution is actively being pursued with the possibly of relocating the site. While a follow-up meeting will be held with the DOE to further flesh out the details regarding a solution, until such time that a resolution is forthcoming, the concerns in the community will continue unabated. In fact, there are countless private schools near the site including Yeshiva Shaare Torah located just two doors down who are concerned that the release of truants at 1:00 PM falls during lunch hours for the all girl’s high school. In addition, the location is in the heart of a heavily residential and shopping district.

Following the day’s meeting Councilman Michael Nelson stated, “Now that we had the opportunity to sit down and talk about the issues, I am confident a resolution will be achieved to keep our neighborhoods safe and to keep truants from causing havoc on our streets. We will continue to work closely with the Department of Education until a viable solution for our communities is reached.”

Councilman David G. Greenfield said, “This is a serious quality of life issue for residents in that part of Midwood, so I am pleased that the Department of Education is listening to the community’s concerns. I will continue to work with my colleagues and with DOE officials to find an appropriate location for this truancy center that does not disrupt the neighborhood. The current location is clearly unacceptable and unfair to the community.”

Assemblyman Dov Hikind commented, “I am cautiously optimistic that a resolution will be reached. The safety of our community should be the primary concern.”

Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs said, “My colleagues and I heard the cries of neighborhood parents about the proposed location for the Truancy Processing Center, and made sure to convey those concerns to the Department of Education at a meeting yesterday afternoon. Thanks to yesterday’s meeting, the Department of Education will explore several options to keep our children out of harm’s way. I am pleased that the community’s voice has been heard, and I will continue to fight for our children and their families.”

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein said, “I appreciate the Department of Education sitting with the elected officials and representatives of Shaare Torah to discuss the recently opened truancy center. They listened to our concerns and I am hopeful that working together, we will be able to come to a resolution that will be good for the community and for the Department of Education.”

Councilman Nelson’s Chief of Operations, Chaim Deutsch questioned the entire truancy process at the meeting. “The truants should be assigned to the local precincts where their issues will be better addressed by the Police Department’s youth officers. Moreover, I find the DOE’s projected numbers of two truants per day at the new location as a heavily understated figure. Even one instance of crime is unacceptable in our neighborhood.”

(YWN Desk – NYC)

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