HS ex­o­dus

Dozens of stu­dents have left af­ter killing in Bx. class

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY KERRY BURKE and BEN CHAP­MAN

A CRUSH of stu­dents and two staffers have fled the Bronx “Zoo School” where a stu­dent was killed in a class­room stab­bing.

Since the Sept. 27 slay­ing of 15-year-old Matthew McCree at the Bronx Ur­ban As­sem­bly School for Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion, about 30 stu­dents have trans­ferred to other schools — and the two teach­ers who wit­nessed the at­tack are on paid leave, city Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment of­fi­cials said.

Stu­dents at the school said many staffers and kids are still badly trau­ma­tized by the in­ci­dent — and many still feel un­safe.

“I’m leav­ing. I’ll be hon­est with you, this school is hor­ri­ble,” said ju­nior Rafael Ro­driquez, 16, of the Bronx.

“I’ve never felt safe here. This school should be shut down for all time,” he added.

Ro­driquez said he would be mov­ing to a new school at the end of the school year in June.

City Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment of­fi­cials said they have granted trans­fers to all stu­dents who re­quested them for safety rea­sons.

“We are work­ing closely with each fam­ily and staff mem­ber to ad­dress any re­quests and con­cerns, and will con­tinue to pro­vide the en­tire Wildlife com­mu­nity with on­go­ing sup­port, in­clud­ing train­ing for staff, coun­sel­ing ser­vices and ad­di­tional safety agents,” said Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment spokes­woman Toya Hol­ness.

Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Prin­ci­pal Astrid Ja­cobo was re­moved from the school in Oc­to­ber and is work­ing at a cen­tral of­fice, Hol­ness said.

Bronx Su­per­in­ten­dent Fred Walsh tapped Frank Gi­aimo, for­merly an Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment ad­min­is­tra­tor in the Bronx, to re­place Ja­cobo on a tem­po­rary ba­sis, of­fi­cials said.

Hol­ness said a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion is be­ing con­ducted into school staffers’ han­dling of the class­room killing.

Abel Ce­deno, 18, was charged with fa­tally stab­bing Matthew, and slic­ing his best friend, Ari­ane LaBoy, 16, in front of hor­ri­fied stu­dents.

Ce­deno told the Daily News in a jail­house in­ter­view that he “just snapped” af­ter en­dur­ing con­stant bul­ly­ing at school for his bi­sex­u­al­ity.

Founded in 2007, the Ur­ban As­sem­bly School for Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion, is one of more than 200 small-themed high schools largely cre­ated un­der Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. Its en­roll­ment now stands at about 450 stu­dents.

The school’s nick­name is tied to an an­i­mal-fo­cused cur­ricu­lum and a part­ner­ship with the Bronx Zoo. But stu­dents say unchecked bul­ly­ing at the school make it a “Zoo School” as well.

Only 55% of stu­dents said they feel safe in school hall­ways in a city Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment sur­vey in 2016 — far be­low the city av­er­age of 84%.

Just 19% of teach­ers re­ported feel­ing safe at the school in the same 2016 sur­vey, far be­low the city av­er­age of 75%.

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