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FSSA School Safety Petition

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FRANK SINATRA SCHOOL OF THE ARTS PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION 30-20 Thomson Avenue, Room 742, Long Island City, New York 11101 January 9, 2008 Mr. Jeffrey Gralto, Borough Manager of School Safety, Division Queens 05-25 Horace Harding Expressway Queens, New York 11368 Dear Mr. Gralto: We, the parents and family members of the 623 students of Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) housed on the 6th and 7th floors of 30-20 Thomson Avenue in Long Island City, wish to voice to you our extremely serious concerns regarding the safety and security of our children, and to beseech you to take immediate and concrete action to correct the current unsafe situation and to ensure a safe and secure environment for our children to attend school. We are appalled and alarmed at an incident that took place in and around our building on the afternoon of 12/12/07 when during dismissal students from another school housed in the same building physically accosted and robbed one of our students, then physically attacked and injured another FSSA student on the way to her basketball game after she went back into our building to seek help for the student who was being robbed. There apparently was no school safety officer present during this dismissal, either in or outside the building, which is completely unacceptable, nor was there any police presence outside the building. Furthermore, after our victimized students had the courage to follow through on charges against their attackers, they were subjected to a humiliating hearing which we believe was improperly conducted-a \"legal\" proceeding in which they were badgered, harassed, and victimized again! During the first week of January 2008, parents verified that on one day the School Safety agents spent exactly 10 minutes patrolling during afternoon dismissal, and on another day they were once again nowhere to be seen! We are also concerned about the bomb threat incident on 12/19/07, rumors of gang activity and threats of retaliation in the building, and about the ongoing security problems in the stairwells, lack of a building-wide PA system, shortage of school safety officers (4 officers for a building that houses 4 high schools is simply not enough to maintain safety), and lack of New York City Police Department presence around our building when our children are coming to school in the morning, and when leaving the school in the afternoon. These events have created a climate of fear, anger, and mistrust in our beloved school community. Our children need and deserve a safe and secure environment in which to learn and grow, and the current environment at 30-20 Thomson is not safe. We are a diverse but cohesive community of concerned parents who are willing to share any and all resources to help, however, we recognize that it is the responsibility and the job of your department to protect our children and keep them safe. As such, we respectfully demand that the following actions be taken immediately: 1.) Increase the number of full-time School Safety agents from 4 to 8. 2.) Increase the number and frequency of NYPD patrols and presence around our building, especially in the morning from 7:00 to 9:00AM, and in the afternoon from 2:30 to 4:30PM. 3.) Ensure that comprehensive victim advocacy services are made available to students and their families to help them prepare for hearings, and to assist and support them throughout the process. 4.) Establish a channel of communication between the 108th Precinct Community Relations Department, and the parents of FSSA. We fully expect you to take our concerns very seriously, and to respond to them promptly and thoroughly. We are ready and willing to work with you on achieving these necessary changes, and we look forward to hearing from you within the next 10 days. We implore you to take action on this issue immediately. The safety of our children is in your hands. Sincerely yours, Alicia Fry, MSW President, FSSA PTA

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