Troubled A.C. School Looking for Answers to Violence

WPVI.com (Philadelphia), Jan. 23

Seven-year-old Nishiyah McKinney can’t walk to school, even though it’s a short six blocks. Her mother won’t let her; she doesn’t trust the neighborhood around the New York Avenue School, which some now call “little Fallujah.”

Too many shootings. Too many men standing idly on street corners. Too much at stake.

“I’d love to have my kids walk to school, but I can’t,” said Kemyelle McKinney, 32, sitting in her car outside the school, waiting to drive them home. “There’s a lot of violence in this area. It’s getting so that children have to duck down” to avoid getting shot, she said.

If acting Gov. Richard Codey wants to make New Jersey’s schools more secure, he could start here—at an urban elementary school where neighborhood violence and a series of gun-related incidents have school officials considering abandoning the $23 million building after only a year.

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Within a three-month span recently:

-Someone fired a pistol through a window and into a first-floor art room. The bullet was found by a teacher.

-Another teacher watched from a third-floor classroom as a car pulled up outside and a lone gunman got out, firing three or four shots down an alley before speeding away.

-A 15-year-old boy was shot to death Sept. 29 at the Village, the latest casualty of what police say is a drug war in the project.

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