The first murder in a city school in 25 years is throwing a spotlight on the Education Department's efforts to curb bullying. Advocates say the stabbing death, allegedly committed by a student who says he was bullied, shows the city is not doing enough. NY1's Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report:
Mayor de Blasio and his schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña have vowed to stamp out bullying in schools, spending $47 million a year on mental health and other programs to make schools kinder, gentler and more supportive places.
But revelations that bullying may have triggered Wednesday's deadly stabbing in a Bronx school are raising new questions about how effective those programs are - and whether they are reaching every school.
"What we see is that this is hard work and schools need more support," says Kim Sweet, executive director of the group Advocates for Children of New York.
Much of the funding for the programs goes to 215 so-called "Community Schools" targeted for extra services.
The Urban Assemby School for Wildlife Conservation, where the stabbing occurred, is not one of them.
Students there say their pleas for help were ignored.
"I got bullied a lot of times last year - six times. I keep telling the teachers but they don't do anything," student Jasmine Peño says.
Two parents, Erica Estrada and Luz Abrego, showed us as video that they say is Abgrego's son getting bullied in the middle school bathroom last year.
"What did they do about it? Nada," Abrego says, adding she was told to get her son help."
Responding to an Education Department survey last spring, 100 percent of the school's teachers reported bullying among students, and half said it was a constant problem. Ninety percent of the students reported physical fights.
NY1 asked the chancellor if survey results like that triggered any type of response from the city, such as more counselors or anti-bullying training. She said the department focuses on a different set of data: the number of specific incidents a principal files official reports on.
"In terms of guidance counselors, if there is more needed in a certain school, depending on the amount of incidents, then we provide that. We also provide in schools where it is necessary some after school support for the schools," Fariña explained
It doesn't appear the School for Wildlife Conservation received any of those extra supports.
The chancellor says her team is investigating the issues that led to the stabbing and provide extra help, where needed. Students and parents say they wish their pleas had been heard sooner.