Thursday, October 18

Incident in Red Hook feeds fears about multi-age buildings

I don't usually like to post about incidents at individual schools that only involve one kid. The Post and the Daily News get a lot of mileage out of stories where affronted parents and kids tell their tale, but you can never be sure whether their stories point out real flaws in their school, although undoubtedly they sometimes do. But today the Daily News is reporting that a 1st grader at Agnes Humphrey School for Leadership in Red Hook was bound with tape by two older students, who threatened to throw him down the stairs, and I think the situation deserves a little attention.

Adults intervened quickly, the child wasn't hurt, and one 9th grader was suspended for bullying and intimidation. The school has only recently expanded to include high school grades, and the mother says in the article, "Teenagers are going to be teenagers and they are going to be doing things that aren't appropriate for younger kids," reflecting the argument made by angry parents at other elementary schools where the DOE has tried to place middle and high schools. At most schools I've visited, kids in different school levels keep to themselves, but at Agnes Humphrey, these fears appear to have been borne out.

Also mentioned in the article: another older student was arrested "after becoming belligerent with authorities." Another downside of housing middle and high schools in the same building as elementary schools? Younger kids may be exposed to tensions between school safety agents and students.

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