Demanding answers about safety solutions in the Huntington Station neighborhood of Jack Abrams Intermediate School, parents and residents showed up for the first public meeting between the five-member Huntington Town board and the Huntington school board last night.
Parents wanted to know from the school board what the next step is now that they have announced several options for relocating students because of continued violence in the area.
The board meeting moved from its regular location at Jack Abrams to Huntington High School because of the anticipated high turnout. More than 600 people attended.
School board members then pressed Petrone to give them a completion deadline for the cleanup efforts. "I'll make a commitment to you," he said. "We'll make a commitment to work closer with you if you make a commitment to work with us."
School board member Liz Black, who thinks the students should be relocated, told Petrone that specifics on how to address recent violence must be addressed. "Frank, it's frustrating for us because we are responsible for educating the children and the violence is accelerating," Black said. "We don't have time to wait to see if any of the children get hurt."
Concern by parents and the community ratcheted up last month after shots were fired during school hours just blocks from the school. Tensions had been mounting since a man was shot across the street from the school a week before classes started in September.
Some parents are advocating moving students immediately, preferably swapping buildings with town hall, a former school, while the neighborhood is cleaned up. Others wish to keep students in place while pressuring town and county officials to address the gang problem and quality of life issues. such as housing code violations that many say contribute to the instability of the neighborhood.