GREAT KILLS — A Staten Island high schooler who created a Facebook page bemoaning the DOE's decision to open schools Thursday became an online populist champion when his page racked up more than 19,000 likes in a single night.
Jeremy Duenas, a freshman at Ralph McKee high school, became a hit with frustrated parents and snow-covered students with his page, Close NYC Schools During Snow Emergencies, which launched Wednesday night and was already viral by Thursday morning.
Duenas, 15, told DNAinfo New York that he thought it was "crazy" that schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Mayor Bill de Blasio kept schools open despite the threat of a storm that dropped more than a foot of snow on the city.
"It's outrageous," Duenas, who did not to go school because of the storm, said Thursday afternoon. "I go to school by McKee, and it's impossible to get there. I live on a main road and even that's not what it should be. I can't imagine what other streets look like."
Duenas' page started gaining steam after he started posting on the Facebook walls of Staten Island city Council members Deborah Rose and Vincent Ignizio and Assemblyman Joseph Borelli. The Great Kills teen said he noticed the followers from the politician's pages started liking his page immediately, and the page has been growing in popularity since.
"People are thanking me for giving them a place to vent and they're sharing their stories with me," Duenas said. "I'm hearing about kids that didn't go to school and parents that kept their kids at home. It's outrageous all the things that happened."
"Stay out of your cars and stay off the roads but schools are open!" one poster wrote on the page.
"No parent should put their child on a school bus in this condition," wrote another.
Fariña drew criticism for defending her decision to open schools by saying Thursday was "a beautiful day."
"I found that outrageous. She was doing damage control and it backfired on her," Duenas said. "You can't say that without expecting some kind of backlash."