STATEN ISLAND (PIX11) — The New York City Department of Education told PIX11 News Tuesday we would probably have to file a “Freedom of Information” request if we wanted to find out how many school families request “safety transfers” each year — and how many are actually granted.
That was the initial response PIX11 Investigates received, after a second e-mail to Margie Feinberg, who serves as Communications Director for the Department of Education.
Freedom of Information Requests, known as FOILS, can take weeks or months to get action on.
PIX11 made the request for the statistics, as we spoke to a Staten Island mother seeking a safety transfer for her 11-year-old son.
Halcyone Williams told us she was stunned when she saw a 14-year-old student in the Bronx, Noel Estevez, get arrested last Wednesday, accused of fatally stabbing a classmate who had taunted him for months.
Williams’ son, Cyon, told PIX11 he had thought of taking similar action, after enduring four months of torment at Intermediate School 61 on Staten Island.
“Thinking about killing myself or killing others,” Cyon said. “I felt that was really the only escape of what I was going through.”
The slightly-built Cyon transferred to I.S. 61 in late January, from a private school in lower Manhattan. His mother showed us his report card, which indicated he was taking honors classes, with academic grades between 85 and 95 his most recent semester.
But Williams abruptly pulled her son out of school on June 2, just weeks before the last day of classes, when she found his emotional state to be deteriorating.
Cyon told his mother other students were not only hitting him, but mocking him in class.
“They would laugh at the way I sat, and they would call me ‘gay,’” Cyon told PIX11.
His mother picked up the conversation. “And then he started crying and said ‘Mom, I just don’t know who to be anymore.’” The mother recounted. “And I looked at him and I said, ‘That’s it. You’re not going back.’”
Cyon has been doing his schoolwork at home the last few weeks and hoping to get a safety transfer to a new school by September.
PIX11 News started looking at the “safety transfer” issue last May, after a 12-year-old middle school student in Queens hung herself from a bedroom ceiling fan.
Gabby Molina had been taunted by classmates on social media.
Within a couple of weeks, another 12-year-old, who lived a block away from the late Gabby Molina, was taken to a psychiatric center, amid fears she would take her life by “cutting.”
The 12-year-old received hospital care and counseling and ultimately received a safety transfer from Intermediate School 172 in Floral Park, Queens and now attends another middle school.
In the video below, Cyon stops by our studio with his mother to tell us first-hand how he feels about the whole situation and find out what gets us emotional on set.