JACKSON HEIGHTS — More than a dozen schools in Western Queens are either without crossing guards or do not have a sufficient number, an elected official said.
The claim comes as parents and administrators at The Renaissance Charter School are pushing to reinstate a crossing guard who was pulled just days before the year kicked off.
The school, on 82nd Street and 37th Avenue, was told by the NYPD that it would lose its crossing guard on Sept. 4, just four days before school started, according to Peggy Heeney, a development and outreach associate at the school who started a petition to have the guard reinstated.
The guard was stationed on 37th Avenue, where many students cross the thoroughfare, Heeney said.
“We are on a very busy cross street," she said. "We have a public bus stop [Q32] in front of the building and there is quite a lot of traffic here."
Heeney said the NYPD told her that a number of crossing guards retired late in the summer and they didn’t have time to fill the positions. It's not clear how many of the guards retired.
Other guards were placed in areas that have a “higher need,” she said, including Northern Boulevard and 93rd Street — where last year a young girl was struck by an off-duty police officer as she walked to P.S. 228 with her mother.
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A guard was assigned to that school for the 2014-15 school year and the family of the victim, Chunli Mendoza, 6, has since filed a civil suit against the driver, according to their lawyer Steve Vaccaro. The case is ongoing.
The guard's removal impacts several other nearby schools, too, since many students at P.S. 69, St. Joan of Arc school, I.S. 145 and P.S. 212 also cross 37th Avenue to get to class, Heeney said.
“They’re all within two or three blocks, and many of the kids take the same route our kids take as well,” she said.
The school joins a list of 13 in western Queens that are either not staffed with a crossing guard or have requested an additional one, according to state Sen. Jose Peralta.
Among the group — including three Catholic schools — 11 do not have guards and two are requesting one more.
Peralta has been on a “crossing guard crusade” for years and sent a letter to the NYPD in August requesting the vacant spots be filled, according to his spokesman Frank Sobrino.
Some of those schools, like P.S. 228 and I.S. 230, have had guards assigned since the letter was sent, Sobrino said, although administrators at I.S. 230 have said the school needs a second guard.
Of the schools still without guards, two — P.S. 92 and P.S. 287 — are on busy Northern Boulevard between 104th and 111th Street, which was approved as an "arterial slow zone" by Community Board 3 in June.
The dangerous stretch has had a number of pedestrian accidents, including one involving a young boy who was killed when a truck hit him as he walked to school in Woodside.
Two schools in Elmhurst, St. Leo's and the Elmhurst Educational Campus, are on busy Corona Avenue and are without guards, Peralta's letter states.
P.S. 2 in East Elmhurst is requesting two guards for the Ditmars Boulevard and 21st Avenue entrances, according to Peralta's office.
The NYPD, meanwhile, is trying to fill open positions — with a notice on its website stating they have a particular need in the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side and the 46th precinct in The Bronx.
It was not clear when the listing was posted.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Department of Education referred questions to the NYPD.