A month after a bullied student fatally stabbed a classmate and critically injured another, the city Department of Education announced an $8 million plan to prevent bullying.
The new initiatives include creating an online portal where students and parents can report bullying; making students who are bullied eligible for a school transfer; requiring schools to develop “action plans” for students who bully their classmates; and providing targeted support for 300 schools with high bullying rates.
The department has also partnered with ThriveNYC, first lady Chirlane McCray’s mental health initiative, to provide trainings and workshops on bullying prevention for students, staff, families and community members, and it will offer anti-bias training for all school employees.
“We must work together to ensure that all school communities, particularly parents, are engaged as partners in this ongoing work,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement.
The announcement comes about a month after Abel Cedeno, 18, stabbed two of his classmates, killing Matthew McCree, 15, and wounding Ariane Laboy, 16, at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx.
Cedeno’s lawyers said he endured a “long history of bullying and intimidation” at the school. The 18-year-old told police that McCree and Laboy had been throwing pencils at him before the fatal confrontation, but that was the first time they bullied him.
At the same school, a sixth-grader tried to hang himself in a stairwell after he was repeatedly bullied, the New York Times reported.
The initiatives will begin at different times, with some of the trainings starting in January. The online portal will launch in 2019, the DOE said.
Fariña announced the reforms Monday at a City Council Committee on Education hearing. Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr., who represents the district that includes the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation and is a member of the education committee, said in addition to bullying prevention, more needs to be done to make schools safer.
“I appreciate Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s testimony today, however there seems to be a lack of clarity about how school safety requests are made and who approves those requests, and that’s a huge problem,” he said in a statement. “It’s my belief that the resources are available, but that DOE needs to do better in facilitating.”
The Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation did not have metal detectors at the time of the stabbing.