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Board closes school after rise in violence

July 20, 2010 2:59:13 PM PDT
It was a contentious meeting over the most controversial of topics.

In the end, Huntington's school board made a most unusual decision - to close an entire school because of nearby crime.

"We're shutting down our schools instead of shutting down our criminals. And that's unacceptable," Rebecca Sanin of the Huntington Station Action Coalition said.

For almost a year, police have confronted a rising tide of violence near Huntington Station's Jack Abrams Intermediate School. Much of it is attributed to gangs.

As more and more parents threatened to take their kids out of the school, administrators resisted calls to close it altogether.

That was until last Saturday, when in the middle of the night a teenager was shot in the leg right behind the school.

It was enough for board president Bill Dwyer to call an emergency meeting.

"No matter what we did, no matter what decision we made, half of that room was going to be very angry with us," he said.

He became the deciding vote to turn Jack Abrams into an administrative building only.

In September, the school's fifth and sixth graders to Woodhull Intermediate School, a mile and a half away in Huntington.

On the leafy block where Jack Abrams has served the community for decades, residents call it a dramatic overreaction.

"What the board did is so unjust to the children in this community. You just told them they live in a place that's not worthy of an education," Donna Blair said.

"What went on yesterday made us very ashamed to live in suburbia, let's put it that way. I said to someone I think we need to move to Brooklyn or Manhattan because people are too small-minded here and too paranoid," said another resident.

Officials are considering other uses for the building such as daytime alternative high school or adult education classes.


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