In a move that has sparked outrage among many in the Flatbush Jewish community, the New York City Department of Education has set into motion the opening of a Truancy Center at 1780 Ocean Ave., corner of Ave. M. The location is just yards from Yeshiva Shaarei Torah, a girls’ high school.
The center is part of a truancy program known as Track that was inaugurated at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Truancy,” said Bloomberg “is often a child’s first step in the wrong direction. Chronic absenteeism leads to higher rates of school failure, delinquency, and dropping out. From there, it is often hard to recover.”
“This shows us just the kind of kids that will be at the center,” said one concerned parent. “We send our daughters to a yeshiva so that they will not come in contact with these elements. Now they will see them on the street, the nearby kosher pizza shop, etc.”
Ironically, in a press release published by the Department of Education, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has warned about students who wind up in truancy centers.
“Truancy and chronic absenteeism is a public safety issue,” said Kelly. “When children and teens are truant during school hours, they are more likely to be the victims of and commit crimes. The risk of drug use, gang activity and criminal behavior increases significantly when students are on the street instead of in the classroom.”
According to the DOE website specially trained police officers will patrol the streets, stopping all school-age kids and checking if they have legitimate reasons for being out of school. If no reason can be produced they will be taken to the truancy center.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind said in a statement that the proposed plan was “outrageous and unacceptable” and criticized the DOE for keeping local officials and area residents completely in the dark about the facility.