“It’s a tragedy for me to report that the District 18 family has lost one of its own students to senseless gun violence,” said Superintendent Celeste Douglas at the April 4th virtual meeting of District 18’s Community Education Council (CEC).
Douglas referred to the heartbreaking death of 12-year-old Kade Lewin who was shot and killed on Thursday, March 31st at Linden Boulevard and East 56th Street while he was simply eating in a parked car with his family (see “Innocent 12-Year-Old Killed in Crossfire,” Canarsie Courier, April 7, 2022). Kade’s cousin, who was sitting in the driver’s seat, was shot multiple times but survived her injuries. With the shooter/s still at large as of this week, the community continues to ask for the public’s help with any information on the suspects.
It wasn’t disclosed which school the youngster attended, but Douglas said the boy’s life will be honored by teachers and classmates when the time is appropriate. She also noted that many in the school he attended are stricken with sadness and fear in light of the gun violence that continues to cripple the city without time to heal.
“It’s time for us to think about safety and holding everyone accountable,” the devoted superintendent said. “I have a plan to work with politicians on this issue and we’ve been providing support to students who are dealing with the emotions of this horrible event – one of many that’s been taking the lives of so many children in recent days.”
Despite the fact that reports stated the family was not the intended target of the shooting, Douglas said that a task force needs to be established to both protect and teach children about modern safety tactics when traveling on city streets.
“There’s a change in the community culture that children are currently growing up in,” she said. “We also know that the weather is getting warmer, pandemic restrictions are loosening and we don’t want to live in fear that another child will be caught in the crossfire.”
Where other safety measures are concerned, it was also announced that some city schools will take part in the initiative called “unannounced scanning.” Principals of schools, where chronic violence takes place, will be given a 24-hour notice before school safety agents randomly check students’ belongings for weapons. Schools with the most reported number of violent incidents will be the target of these unannounced scanning practices.
“This will be done at select middle schools and high schools in the district,” said Douglas.
According to numerous reports from last year, random scanning has led to the recovery of hundreds of firearms and other weapons carried by students.
Another update the superintendent provided focused on student absences within the district. The year-to-date attendance rate is currently at 88%, with nine schools below the average rate. The chronic absenteeism rate is 44 percent. Students are considered “chronically absent” once they have missed 18 days or more of the entire school year. Other students could be “at risk” which means they missed more than 10% of the school year to date.
“We meet with principals and parents to identify why these students are chronically absent and discuss what we can do if they are at-risk,” Douglas said.
Some of the consistency in absenteeism is believed to be connected to students staying home as a pandemic precaution. With COVID-19 variants still spreading, and the option for remote learning off the table, students who feel sick to any capacity could miss out on more days of school.
The next meeting of CEC 18 is scheduled to take place virtually on Monday, May 2nd. For information on Zoom meeting details, please call 718-566-6011/6037 or e-mail CEC18@schools.nyc.gov