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After shooting, school board seeks to move students

Jack Abrams Intermediate School in Huntington Station (Dec.

Jack Abrams Intermediate School in Huntington Station (Dec. 18, 2009) Photo Credit: Newsday File / Ed Betz

The Huntington School Board has asked the district superintendent to consider moving students out of Jack Abrams Intermediate School in Huntington Station after gunshots were fired less than two blocks from the school last week.

Dozens of parents attended a Monday night board meeting to express concern after the shooting at New York Avenue and Academy Place at 1:53 p.m. Thursday. Some spoke of moving children from the school at the end of year, while others don't want to wait.

Police said a group of males were standing in a parking lot when one fired shots. No one was struck, though police said they believe one or more members of the group was a target. Police said Tuesday an investigation is continuing.

Last week's shooting was the third reported near the Lowndes Avenue school since February 2009, when a fatal shooting occurred on nearby Broadway. Days before classes began in September, a nonfatal shooting was reported across the street from the school.

At the Monday night meeting, "the board was unanimous in its request to the administration to pursue as quickly as possible various practical ways that we can remove the children from that neighborhood and put them into other buildings," school board president Bill Dwyer said Tuesday.

District Superintendent John Finello said the violence has compromised safety in the area and his staff is reviewing the board's request.

"We're asking our attorneys to review the legal requirements for adjusting students' schools," Finello said Tuesday.

Finello and Dwyer said one option under consideration is relocating the Abrams students to the district's other intermediate school, Woodhull, and using split sessions to accommodate all the students. Tuesday they could not provide details.

Adam Spector, the Jack Abrams PTA treasurer who has children in fourth and sixth grades, had advocated keeping the school open even as other parents pressed for its closure. Tuesday he said he now favors moving the children out of the building temporarily next year if violence in the neighborhood isn't reined in.

"I think we have to make sure everyone thinks clearly about what to do next," Spector said. "State tests are coming up. Parents and teachers will have to adjust their schedules. You have to plan it."

Mike Tracy, a parent who advocated moving the student body into Town Hall - a former school building - said a move should happen immediately.

"We have to strike while the iron is hot," said Tracy, who has a son in sixth grade at Abrams. "Finally, people are realizing it's just not safe and we have to take action now before something terrible happens."

Nicole Gerberg also had advocated keeping the school open provided something is done to make the neighborhood safer - but has changed her mind because of the latest violence. She wants the children moved immediately.

"Until people are moved and until we clean up Huntington, we're not done," said Gerberg, a mother of six, one of whom is a student at Abrams.

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