Schenectady County

School out, violence begins

Fights like the one that broke out down the street from Central Park Middle School last week are a f
A teenager injured in a confrontation in front of 125 Elm Street in Schenectady, is tended to by Schenectady firefighters and Mohawk Ambulance crews Thursday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
A teenager injured in a confrontation in front of 125 Elm Street in Schenectady, is tended to by Schenectady firefighters and Mohawk Ambulance crews Thursday.

Fights like the one that broke out down the street from Central Park Middle School last week are a fairly regular occurrence near the city’s middle schools, police say.

“Last week’s incident was certainly not unique,” said police department spokesman Lt. Brian Kilcullen.

A 17-year-old was assaulted by youths on Elm Street near Central Park Middle School at about 2:15 p.m. on Thursday. The victim, who police have not identified, suffered a cut over his eye. Kilcullen said no arrests have been made.

Kilcullen said police regularly deal with incidents of fights, threats and vandalism immediately after school. “Things are more likely to happen after school when there are a number of groups still around,” he said.

Superintendent of Schools Eric Ely acknowledged there is a problem in the neighborhoods around Mont Pleasant and Central Park middle schools and said officials are attempting to work with police, students and parents.

Kilcullen said police routinely send officers to the middle schools to observe activity during dismissal time. On Thursday, police were at Mont Pleasant Middle School helping to move students along when the incident occurred on Elm Street.

Once the students are off school property, police try to keep them moving through the neighborhood, Kilcullen said. Police are still investigating whether these incidents have any connection to gang activity.

He added that the incidents seem to occur more frequently near the beginning and end of the school year. During the cold weather there do not seem to be as many.

Kilcullen said the students are leaving school and mixing in with nonstudents, older students from the high school and Steinmetz Career Center and even parents. Youths get in each other’s faces and start to argue. “Ultimately, they end up pushing and shoving, hitting and fighting.”

Ely said some parents have even instigated fights and gone after other people’s children. “That’s even more problematic. In our world, adults are supposed to keep things from happening,” he said.

He believes that it is only a small group of students causing the problem, but it is creating a difficult environment.

Sometimes incidents happen over the weekend with people e-mailing each other or contacting each other through the social networking Web site MySpace, and then, Ely said, they resume arguing when they see each other again.

“When people are face to face, it blows up.”

Ely said he sat down with police officials last week and is working with officers and school security to correct the problem. One thing they have done is stagger dismissal times so not everybody is let out at once. They are also reaching out to parents and students to see how issues might be resolved through mediation. “A lot of it is intelligence gathering — knowing what’s going to happen before it happens,” he said.

“We don’t have any jurisdiction off of school property. We try to do the best we can,” he said.

He said the schools have not had any major problems in the school buildings.

However, in an incident earlier Tuesday, three youths were arrested at Schenectady High School after police say they assaulted a school official.

Kilcullen said three juveniles, including two high school boys and a girl from Central Park Middle School, showed up outside the school just before 11 a.m. They came into the school and did not follow the proper procedures requiring them to sign in at the desk and show identification.

Kilcullen said the youths were asked to leave and refused. They then assaulted a hall monitor.

Police are not releasing the names because of their age. The matter has been referred to family court.

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