Moving off the state’s danger list - Brooklyn schools seek to shed designation

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If they have their way, several Brooklyn schools will no longer be considered “persistently dangerous.”

These schools – P.S. 90 at 2840 West 12th Street in Coney Island, M.S. 2 at 655 Parkside Avenue in East Flatbush, M.S. 571 at 80 Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights, and Samuel Tilden High School at 5800 Tilden Avenue in East Flatbush – were given that designation by the state Education Department in an annual review of school crime statistics as per the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

But thanks to a drop in crime and new safety and security measures, the schools are “successfully petitioning to be removed from the list,” according to the state Education Department.

When the schools were added to the “persistently dangerous” list last year – with the exception of Tilden which was added two years ago – Brooklyn parents called the designation “shocking and disturbing.”

There were also fears that the schools would lose students since the list is compiled to inform parents about the conditions in their children’s schools and give them the opportunity to transfer their kids to other schools.

Although no school wants to be considered dangerous, there is a bright side to being on the NCLB list. Along with the “persistently dangerous” title, each school receives a $100,000 grant to improve safety, thereby having an opportunity to get the schools under control.

The funding has helped turn around other Brooklyn schools once deemed “persistently dangerous.”

I.S. 78 Roy Mann in Mill Basin and P.S. 109 in Kensington were removed from the “persistently dangerous” list thanks to significant drops in crime.

I.S. 78 had a history of violence, including a 2006 incident when a 12-year-old student brought a gun into the school building at 1420 East 68th Street. A change in leadership, outreach efforts to the community, and random metal detector screenings have helped revamp the school.

The state’s release of the “persistently dangerous” schools list follows the city’s announcement that crime is down in schools once deemed the most dangerous in Brooklyn.

In August, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that major crimes decreased by 57 percent in the city’s nine “impact” schools, three of which are in Brooklyn – Sheepshead Bay, Canarsie and Tilden high schools.

According to city data, Tilden had the biggest drop in major crimes – 83 percent. Sheepshead Bay at 3000 Avenue X is down 63 percent. And Canarsie at 1600 Rockaway Parkway is down 14 percent.

“Safety is a prerequisite to learning in our schools and classrooms. Only when hallways and classrooms are safe and secure can our students concentrate, learn and excel,” said schools Chancellor Joel Klein.

Updated 3:43 pm, October 19, 2011
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