The Board of Education has removed the principal of the troubled Martin Luther King Jr. High School after a spate of violence involving weapons at the school. Most recently, on Friday, a student sneaked a knife into the bustling five-story building and threatened another student. The removal of the principal, Ronald Williams Wells, came almost three weeks after a crush of students, teachers and administrators dashed from the building and for cover in classrooms when a man shot two students in what appeared to be a dispute over a girl.
The school is at West 66th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, a block from Lincoln Center. On Friday, two students were arrested after one student displayed a folding knife during an argument. He passed it to a second student after security officers arrived to break up the fight. The first student sneaked the knife into the building by passing it inside a book bag through the school's weapons scanner. Martin Luther King school officials did not call th! e Board of Education until hours later, said Catie Marshall.
The Board of Education requires school administrators to call the board's emergency information center immediately after such incidents. During an investigation into the timing of the report, Tony Sawyer, the Manhattan high school superintendent, removed Mr. Wells Ms. Marshall said. The New York Post first reported the dismissal yesterday. Mr. Wells has been replaced by Steve Gutman, a 36-year veteran of the system who retired in September but came back to the board at Mr. Sawyer's request. Mr. Wells's new assignment has not been announced. After the Jan. 5 shootings, Mr. Wells came under criticism for not being at work.
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He was on duty with the National Guard that day. Schools Chancellor Harold O. Levy, who toured the building after the shooting, found that some people who were not enrolled in courses were carrying photo identification cards. The school has had its share of trouble in the nearly three decades since it opened. Efforts to improve the curriculum have faltered, and principals have quit. Next year, the school - which is large, with about 3,000 students - will be divided into two smaller academies.
The removal of a principal cannot be seen as having fixed the problem," said C. Virginia Fields, the Manhattan borough president, who is a member of the task force working to phase out the old school. "There is much work to be done. We need to address safety and security, as well as other concerns that have been raised, including academics and student selection. " My opinion on the whole thing is that the school made the right decision to remove the princible from the school. For one reason what if something happened again like Columbine. That would not be good.
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