Hillcrest High School safety office attacked, teacher hid in classroom during riot – NBC New York | #schoolsaftey

Alarming incidents by students at a Queens high school — including an alleged attack on a safety officer and a riot that targeted a teacher because she shared a pro-Israel picture — were at the forefront of a rally held by two dozen concerned parents, community members and elected New York City officials demanding change.

The NYPD said multiple people were facing charges after what occurred at Hillcrest High School over the span of a week earlier in November, according to police and community officials.

On Nov. 20, students rioted in the hallways of the Briarwood school after some had learned a teacher attended a pro-Israel rally and posted a picture of herself with a sign that read “I Stand With Israel.” That led to students roaming the halls and calling for her firing — and video of the chaotic scene went viral.

“Approximately 400 students acted disruptively roaming the school and calling for the removal of a Jewish educator,” NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks said. “We immediately moved the educator to safety and took steps to restore calm.”

Banks said it was not true that the teacher, who is Jewish, had to barricade herself inside an office, contradicting earlier accounts of what happened. he also said the educator was “never in direct danger.” The principal of Hillcrest said police were called and had isolated her on a different floor.

In another incident at the same school a week before that, students attacked a uniformed school safety officer, police said. The students responsible for the attack were taken into custody and charged, the NYPD shared on X, though their names were not immediately released and it was not known what charges they face.

It also was not immediately clear whether the incidents were related, officials said. Elected officials sounded off on what occurred at the school, and how the administration handled the situation.

“The school administration tried to cover this up in the same way they tried to cover up the riot. It’s clear that the administration of Hillcrest is totally compromised and either unwilling or unable to do what’s necessary to provide a safe environment to their students or their faculty,” said Queens City Councilwoman Vickie Paladino, calling for the school to be shut down so a “full and thorough investigation” can be conducted.

“Furthermore, they seem more than willing to cover up crimes committed by their students in service of a political narrative, and to prevent these criminal students from facing consequences. Were it not brought to the attention of my office, this may have remained covered up. And who knows what else they’re hiding at this point,” Paladino said in a post on X. “The students who committed these acts must be arrested immediately and face appropriate criminal charges. This cannot continue in our schools. Order and discipline must be restored.”

City Councilman Eric Dinowitz echoed those complaints, saying that while the school administrations is “figuring out the best press release to give or how to handle the Media, we are scared.” In a social media post, New York City Mayor Eric Adams called video of the riot a “vile show of antisemitism…motivated by ignorance-fueled hatred.”

“The real question is: What’s going to happen from now? What’s going to happen in the schools? Are these students going to be expelled, are they going to be punished?“ asked Assemblyman David Weprin. “What is the plan that the Department of Education is going to have to prevent this from happening again? We need to know and we need to know now.”

The school said that it was conducting a full investigation, with resources being deployed in order to educate the students on why what occurred was unacceptable. In a statement from United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, the union said they have been working with the teacher involved, as well as school safety, the city’s Department of Education and the police since the riot on Nov. 20.

“The union will continue to send staff to the building and to work with the administration, DOE safety personnel, school safety, and the NYPD to restore and maintain a safe environment for faculty, students and staff,” said Mulgrew.

Schools Chancellor Banks, an alum of Hillcrest, said Monday that much of the dialogue at his former school was “overblown,” saying that the vast majority of the 2,500 students who attend are not involved in any kind of hate speech or violence.

“The school is very much under control,” said Banks, noting it was “completely unacceptable” that the teacher was targeted for the picture posted. He added that several students had already faced discipline for their role in the chaos.

Some students said what was meant to be a peaceful protest spiraled out of control. The senior class president said the students who who targeted the Jewish teacher were wrong to do so.

“A lot of these students didn’t know what they were doing at the moment,” said senior class president Mohammad Ghazali.

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