Heat ADVISORY in effect for:
Trouble at school for troubled kids prompts call for closurePosted: Updated:
Residents sharing their community with a Hawthorne school for troubled kids say they want it closed after two incidents led to the arrests of five students.
Five students have been arrested in connection with off-campus incidents. In one, a runaway student allegedly broke into a house, armed with a box cutter, and threatened the homeowner.
"I more than understand some of the residents are upset," says Mark Silverstein, the superintendent of Hawthorne Cedar Knolls. "We take accountability very seriously, but the students have rights too. We have no desire to restrain children, and we're not allowed to restrain children."
The school serves hundreds of emotionally troubled and at-risk students from kindergarten through 12th grade. About half of them live on campus. Some of those are wards of the state who have nowhere else to go.
They often face neurological impairments or social and emotional issues, officials say, and attempt to cope by acting out.
"One or two incidents in the school does not make a total measure of what we do," Silverstein explains. "What we do here doesn't happen overnight."
Nevertheless, critics are calling for the state to review the school's operations.