State lawmakers announced that a school for troubled youth in Westchester County will be closing amid complaints about safety from community members.
Attendees to a community meeting about Hawthorne Cedar Knolls School gasped as state Sen. Terrance Murphy, a Republican, announced the closure of the state-run campus in Mount Pleasant Wednesday night. It comes after a string of incidents in the neighborhoods around the school where students were accused of breaking into homes, attacking people at train stations and other crimes.
"At the end of the day when you know where the problem is you have to go address it," said Murphy.
Officials said the school will shut down its campus in the next six to nine months and will transition the 54 students to other facilities. Two other schools on the sprawling campus will remain open.
Murphy said before the closure, Mount Pleasant police had been overwhelmed with calls about students, many of whom suffer mental illness or have survived sex abuse, prostitution or drug addiction.
In one instance, neighborhood activist Danielle Zaino said, a 17-year-old student went into someone's home, took a box cutter and food and walked up to and adult inside.
"She called me immediately after it happened," she said. "She was very very upset, very angry. Very scared."
On Wednesday night, community members including David Rivell, the CEO of the nonprofit that runs the school, said shuttering the school was the right move.
"I was the right decision for the community and for the kids," he said.