Pol blasts city educators for not immediately notifying Bay Academy parents of shooting threat

Under arrest: Police cuffed an 11-year-old for making a social media post threatening a shooting at Bay Academy in Sheepshead Bay.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

A Sheepshead Bay pol blasted city education officials for failing to immediately notify parents after someone threatened to open fire inside an Emmons Avenue school last week.

Cops on March 7 cuffed an 11-year-old girl for threatening to shoot up the hallways of Bay Academy in an Instagram post shared the day before, police said.

“Can’t wait for tomorrow shooting. Bay Academy kids watch out,” read the March 6 post shared from handle @joshk817, whose account has since been removed from the social platform.

And Department of Education officials chose not to close the middle school between E. 14th and 15th streets on the day of the alleged threat after reporting it to authorities, who deemed it unfounded following an investigation, according to an agency rep.

“Safety always comes first, and this unfounded threat was immediately reported to the NYPD and thoroughly investigated,” said Miranda Barbot. “All students and staff are safe.”

But Education Department leaders failed to notify Bay Academy parents of the threat until the morning that the alleged shooting was set to take place — after students already showed up for class, according to Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay).

“It’s totally unacceptable how the process went down,” he said. “It took about eight hours, and they only sent out the notice at 9 am, after schools start at 7:45 am. It’s common sense that you should send it out before school starts the next day.”

The delay sparked confusion among many moms and dads awaiting an official response after their kids saw the menacing post, claimed the pol, who said many of those parents proactively pulled their children from class while Education Department officials got around to addressing the incident.

“I would not feel comfortable having my kids go into school without hearing from DOE,” Deutsch said.

The councilman alerted officers with the Police Department’s Counterterrorism Division and other officials after a constituent told him about the post at 11:30 pm the day it appeared, he said, to ensure the middle school and its students were secure before the first bell rang on the day of the alleged threat.

“We made sure there was a strong police presence outside the school,” he said. “Making sure kids are safe is our number one priority.”

And Bay Academy’s principal ultimately excused the absences of kids who stayed home before officials’ formally addressed the threat.

“Some families choose to keep their children out of school in light of the reported threat. We will be deeming such absences excused for such children,” Maria Timo said in a statement sent to parents after school began on March 7.

Following the incident, Deutsch promised to push for legislation that would establish standard protocols for city educators to follow when responding to future threats, because he claimed no such set guidelines currently exist.

“I put in a bill to have a protocol. DOE should have a better protocol for how they should respond to an emergency situation,” he said. “DOE needs to show ownership, leadership and responsibility.”

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