By Patrick Hedlund
LOWER EAST SIDE — An education council member has been arrested for threatening to burn down a Lower East Side school, authorities said.
Edward Primus, a member of District 1's Community Education Council, told a guidance counselor at the Shuang Wen School that he would set the Cherry Street building ablaze, the criminal complaint said.
"I'm going to burn the school down if my daughter is not transferred," said Primus, 58, according to the complaint.
He was led from the school in handcuffs following the incident on Monday, and has been charged with harassment and attempted coercion, according to the District Attorney. Primus was arraigned on Thursday and released a day later after posting bail, the DA said.
The CEC unsuccessfully tried to remove him from the council last year, citing a pattern of aggressive and disruptive behavior. The Department of Education instead recommended a mediation session between Primus and fellow CEC members.
Primus, an Inwood resident, denied making the statements, saying he recorded the conversation and will present it as evidence at his next court appearance.
"That's not what was said at all," he noted, "and they know that was not what was said."
Primus added that the alleged threat "was taken out of context" and claimed the complaint against him was made by "a bunch of unethical people trying to cover their behinds because the school is under investigation."
Shuang Wen, a high-achieving dual-language school, is currently facing a probe for issues related to its management of finances and enrollment practices, among others.
A person answering the phone at Shuang Wen after school hours Friday could not provide any additional information about the incident.
A Department of Education spokeswoman said the incident "is a police matter and we are cooperating fully."
Shuang Wen School officials did not immediately return a request for comment.