Cedeno, left, has been charged with murdering McCree, right. (via Instagram and Facebook) -->
NYC will spend $8 million on an anti-bullying campaign, in part as a response to a fatal classroom stabbing at a Bronx high school last month. That incident, in which 18-year-old Abel Cedeno allegedly killed 15-year-old Matthew McCree and injured another student during a history class at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, was reportedly borne out of what parents have described as a culture of bullying, and at a City Council hearing yesterday schools chancellor Carmen Fariña vowed to combat it.
The initiative will include an online portal, set to launch sometime in 2019, where families can report bullying incidents to officials with the Department of Education, as well as incidents of harassment and discrimination. In addition, the city will fund targeted programming for 300 schools with high reported incidents of bullying, which will aim to offer support and teach relationship skills to both staff and students. Schools will also be required to come up with individual action plans, should accusations of serious bullying arise.
The plan will also set aside $1 million in funding for clubs like Gender and Sexuality Alliances and anti-bias training for staff.
"Bullying, harassment and discrimination have no place in our schools and these reforms, including strengthened training for staff and families, a new family-facing reporting portal, and expanded mental health services, will deliver critical resources to prevent and address bullying in schools," Fariña said in a statement yesterday. "We must work together to ensure that all school communities, particularly parents, are engaged as partners in this ongoing work."
The city has faced some criticism over what some say is a rising bullying problem. The de Blasio administration has cut back on suspensions and other forms of harsh discipline in favor of open dialogue allowing students to work out their conflicts and relationships free of heavy punishment, but some students have complained they're experiencing more bullying, perhaps as a result. At Urban Assembly, parents told reporters bullying was rampant.
"My sons don't attend the school because of safety reasons," Amy Alvarez, who runs a local daycare and after-school center near the school and often picks up children there, told Gothamist last month. "Because I don't want them to be targets of bullying and because I know they [school administrators] don't take care of the bullying the way they are supposed to."
"Suspensions being down is meaningless," Gregory Floyd, president of Local 237 Teamsters, which represents school safety agents, told the Times. "The numbers show suspensions are down, the numbers show incidents are down. If you’re not reporting it, does that mean it didn’t happen."
Cedeno, meanwhile, has been charged with murder and attempted murder.