Bullying is focus of City Council hearing

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Tim Fleischer has reports on the contents of the city council hearing.

The ongoing issue of bullying is raising new concerns but also new recommendations, especially as it is dealt with in city schools.

Before a City Council hearing students shared their point of view.

"Students who feel bullied feel like they can't turn to their counselor and the counselor at times doesn't see them as being harmed," said one student.

"They need more mental health professionals including psychologists and social workers," said Jeffrey Povalitis, with the United Federation of Teachers Safety and Health Department.

"We want to ensure that we are supporting the students who have been bullied as well as provide appropriate discipline," said Elizabeth Rose, the Deputy Chancellor for Operations.

All of them came before the City Council hearing examining bullying and how it is reported and improving the climate in schools.

Testifying for more than two hours, Carmen Farina spoke of new efforts.

"You just can't mandate actions without a mind set change," Farina said.

The chancellor announced new initiatives to better serve students and parents.

They are looking for greater involvement from all members of the school community and new accountability.

"Training people on what bullying is and this is something that we are going to be very clear, exactly what it is, and then also encouraging other people to play a role, parent coordinators, PTA Presidents. It can't just be the principal," she said.

Concerns were most recently raised at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx, where 15-year old Matthew McCree was stabbed to death and another student was wounded. Police have charged 18-year old Abel Cedeno who claims he was being bullied.

"If there was a metal detector at Urban Assembly Matthew McCree would be alive today," said Sanford Rubenstein, the McCree family's attorney.

Police and DOE investigations are continuing with some stressing the bullying issue goes well beyond this latest tragedy.

"We have a systemic problem," said Inez Barron, NYC City Council. "I think that it is something that is a reflection of our society at large."
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