By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
LOWER EAST SIDE — A parent charged with threatening to set fire to a popular Lower East Side school has a history of making violent and intimidating remarks, allegedly stating he wanted to slit a fellow parent's throat.
Edward Primus, 58, a member of the local Community Education Council, was arrested last week after threatening to burn down the Shuang Wen School on Cherry Street if his daughter was not transferred from the school, police said.
The school's parent-teacher association held a meeting Monday to address the issue.
"He makes threats like this as a habit," said parent Gale Elston, a PTA executive committee member, who Primus allegedly targeted last fall by telling another parent he would "slit [her] throat," she said. "He says things that are very frightening and intimidating."
Other PTA leaders refrained from going into detail about the incident at the meeting, refusing to name Primus in front of the 200-plus parents and staff in attendance or talk specifically about the threat.
Others worried about the effect his words could have on parents, students and staff at Shuang Wen, a high-achieving dual-language school that has recently come under investigation for its finances and enrollment practices.
"This is someone that we have to interact with and has access to our building with our kids in it," said parent Trinh Eng, who added that Primus has previously commented about wanting the school to "go up in flames."
"It's threats on many levels."
Primus, who said he lives in Inwood but who parents alleged lives in Brooklyn, did not return requests for comment.
Other parents at the meeting asked what steps were being taken as result of Primus' arrest, though PTA members were not clear whether he has been prohibited from returning to school grounds.
"What was the motive? What sparked it?" said one Shuang Wen parent, who declined to give her name. "I'm definitely worried. I want to know if the parent is allowed near the property."
PTA members explained that additional security guards were brought in after the threat, and that a request was made to add more surveillance cameras at the school.
Primus, who the Community Education Council unsuccessfully tried to remove from the body last year, previously denied that he threatened to burn down the school and said the remark "was taken out of context."
"There was no heat of the moment," he said Saturday, a day after he was released from jail. "There was no argument."
Shuang Wen principal Ling Ling Chou said the school takes the threat seriously and that students' safety is paramount.
"We need to protect all the children," she said. "We have every duty to guard children, staff and parents."
Nonetheless, parents like Elston fear what it will mean for the future of children at the school.
"I have stayed up until midnight every night worrying about the safety of our children," she said. "I consider strongly pulling my children out of school every day."