Violence at DeWitt Clinton High School escalated to such a point on Oct. 1, that police were called in and slapped at least seven juveniles with disorderly conduct notices, according to police and the Department of Education.
Overcrowding, and what some students say is rampant gang violence at the school, has now culminated in chaos and administrators are scrambling to come up with a solution.
The morning brawl, which numerous students interviewed said was related to gang activity, was followed a week later by Principal Geraldine Ambrosio’s declaration of a “building-wide emergency ... continuing until further notice,” according to a letter to staff obtained by The Press.
Police and the Department of Education said the violence was not gang-related. Both blamed the incident on the rain storm, which, they said, prevented administrators from getting to school on time, leaving some students unsupervised.
“There was low teacher attendance due to the storm and the principal had students gather in the auditorium at the beginning of the day until classrooms were staffed. During a change of period, two students began to fight and several other students joined the fight,” DOE spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said in an e-mail.
But students interviewed during dismissal on Oct. 8 told a very different story.
Eleven current students, one former student and one parent said the violence was gang related. Two students were unsure and one said gangs were not involved. All of them wished to remain anonymous for fear of their safety.
“It was multiple fights, people were getting jumped … somebody snuck in a machete and brought a gun,” a student, who planned to change schools out of fear, said of the incident. “Friday it was, like, a war zone … even the teachers were scared … we weren’t allowed to leave the classroom … ”
One student estimated that 20 to 30 people in the school were in gangs. He said among the most popular were the Bloods and the Crips.
Gangs aren’t the only aspect of Oct. 1 incident that students disagree with the DOE and police about. The DOE and the NYPD said no students were hurt during the incident. Students said otherwise.