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Safety fears at Huntington Station school prompt rallies

Concerned parents of students at Jack Abrams Intermediate School in Huntington Station mobilized Friday, hosting two rallies in front of town hall.

Just after 4 p.m. hundreds of parents, students, teachers, and community and civic leaders marched from the ballfields of Heckscher Park to Veterans Plaza at Huntington Town Hall demanding to know from the town board what is being done to make Huntington Station safe for kids. Gunshots were fired less than two blocks from the school March 11 and a man was shot in the neck Wednesday about a mile from the school.

On Monday the Huntington School Board asked the district superintendent to consider moving students out of Jack Abrams.

Marching into the plaza, many held signs that read "Stop the Violence Now" and "Safety is First." Most spoken to in the group hoped the school remains where it is, but said children's safety comes first.

"Whatever is happening is not enough," said parent Rebecca Sanin, a member of a community task force and the Abrams PTA. "And it's not quick enough."

Huntington Town board members Susan Berland, Glenda Jackson and Mark Mayoka addressed the crowd. Berland said Town Supervisor Frank Petrone and board member Mark Cuthbertson were out of town.

Berland said the town is "working with all levels of government to explore realistic measures to address this serious situation." Town officials are reaching out to federal agencies such as the FBI and Immigration and Naturalization Service to stem gang violence in Huntington Station, Berland said. "The key is to get the gangs out of Huntington Station," she said.

At a late morning rally, parents who are mostly in favor of immediately relocating students to another facility, also gathered with signs in front of town hall.

"Our first goal is to get our children in a safe environment," said Nicole Gerberg, who has helped organize a parent group to address issues surrounding the Jack Abrams building. "Many of us think at this point the children should be moved."

Berland and Mayoka told the parents they would support moving classes to town hall, a former school, but Berland said voters would have to pass a school board referendum to get it done.

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