Parents, Police, and Schools Officials Meet On Gang Activity
By Jeffrey B. Cohen
October 21, 2009
Members of the Hartford Parent Organization Council and the public met this morning with school and police officials to discuss recent reports of gang activity in the city's schools.
Parents told Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts and Schools Superintendent Steven Adamowski that the problem in the city's schools wasn't as bad as it sounded in recent city grant application for a $500,000 federal grant . Maria Gomez, who has four students in the public schools, said the schools do not suffer from "gang infestation" as the city's application said.
"We're not rats and roaches," she said.
Roberts agreed, telling parents that the grant application used old data from the 2007-2008 school year, and that the city had "effectively addressed that problem."
But Gomez then turned to another problem - Bulkeley High School. She told Roberts and Adamowski that, despite their security measures, she is still able to walk into the school and sign herself in at an unwatched entrance.
That, Gomez said, is the type of lax security that led to a recent violent incident at the school that caused her daughter to call her, crying from the school, asking what she should do.
School officials acknowledged the incident, saying it involved eight school students, no one from outside the school, and that some students had been arrested and expelled. Schools security director Joseph Sikora told the parents that he was considering installing a buzzer-entrance system at the school; Adamowski said that while violence at some of the other schools has been successfully addressed, it is still an issue at Bulkeley.
The meeting was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. at the board of education's downtown office but was delayed when Adamowski protested the presence of the news media. He told the council's leader, Milly Arciniegas, that he was "very disappointed" that she invited the press and added that she was doing it as part of her campaign for a seat on the city's board of education.
Adamowski eventually acquiesced. Roberts entered the room, told schools spokesman David Medina that he didn't "have anything to hide," and the meeting began.