Parents in the Huntington school district who attended a meeting last night to confront the issue of violence in the Huntington Station neighborhood of the Jack Abrams Intermediate School made it clear they are deeply divided over whether students should be relocated.
Parent Nicole Gerberg, who favors a move, played a recording of District Superintendent John Finello at the March 15 board meeting saying some action needs to be taken because "it's only a matter of time" before somebody gets shot.
"That was four weeks ago and we're still here," she said.
Another parent, Pat Giles, said the heated rhetoric over the issue, especially on blogs, is making the school board's decision more difficult. He favors keeping the children at the school.
"We should not run," Giles said later. "This is a community and neighborhood issue. There needs to be more police presence and safety issues outside addressed."
Last month, after a daytime shooting about two blocks from the school, the school board asked district administrators to look into options to relocate the students.
At a March 22 school board meeting, Finello said options include leasing a building from the Commack school district, installing modular classrooms at other district schools, moving into the former Touro Law School building at 300 Nassau Rd. and having a split-day session at the district's other intermediate school, Woodhull.
Some parents suggested swapping facilities with Town Hall.
The Town Board is set to vote at its monthly meeting Tuesday to explore the feasibility of such a switch. "Having Town Hall in Huntington Station would not be a bad thing," said Mark Cuthbertson, co-sponsor of the measure, adding that "there are any number of financial and other hurdles that would need to be overcome. So we'll be looking at the feasibility but obviously can't commit to it until a study is done."
Yesterday morning, about 50 parents and children rallied for about two hours in front of Town Hall to put pressure on officials to relocate the Abrams students. About 100 children were kept out of school for the day as part of the "sit out," according to Jill Carrello, a mother of two who said she wants the safety problems dealt with now.
"Safety issues have been surrounding the school for over two decades," Carrello said. "It's time to move the children."