City: Midwood truancy center is here to stay

Yitzi Gruen, the owner of The Judaica Place on Avenue M, thinks it would be a terrible idea for the Department of Education to bring a truancy center to Midwood.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The city admitted that it it did not notify the community before it opened a truancy center in Midwood — but says the widely panned facility will stay exactly where it is despite the neighborhood’s battle to stop it.

Politicians, residents, and business owners have lashed out against the center on Ocean Avenue near Avenue M, saying it will bring problem kids into a neighborhood that is already home to rambunctious high schoolers who go to nearby Edward R. Murrow HS.

“The current location is clearly unacceptable and unfair to the community,” said Councilman David Greenfield (D–Midwood). “This is a serious quality of life issue for residents in that part of Midwood.”

The center will be open from 9 am to 1 pm, according the city, which says truants will be picked up from around the borough and brought either to the new center in Midwood or the only other one in Bushwick if they are not found in areas close to their schools.

If their parents don’t come pick them up by 1 pm, they will be released back into the neighborhood, politicians claim, with some being escorted by Department of Education staff to the nearest subway.

But some community leaders said the city should not put the bad apples in Midwood, and suggested the police — and not the Department of Education — handle the misbehaving teens.

“The truants should be assigned to the local precincts where their issues will be better addressed by the Police Department’s youth officers,” said Chaim Deustch, the chief of operations for Councilman Mike Nelson (D–Sheepshead Bay). “Even one instance of crime is unacceptable in our neighborhood.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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