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Biking on Flatbush
The NYPD has announced a two-week bicycle safety enforcement initiative called Operation Safe Cycle, which begins today, Wednesday, August 13 and continues through Tuesday, August 26.

They say they’ll be targeting cyclists who fail to stop at red lights, disobey traffic signals or signs, ride the wrong direction against traffic, ride on the sidewalk, and fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

But it’s not just cyclists — the NYPD says they’re also focus on motorists who obstruct bike lanes.

“The NYPD asks all persons bicycling and driving in the city to make safety a priority,” they said in a release. “The NYPD is committed to providing a safe environment for all New Yorkers.”

It seems that as the city continues to work on Vision Zero ideas, the NYPD will keep rolling out stings that focus on one aspect that makes traveling the streets in this city dangerous — they’ve already focused on texting and driving, speeding, and other hazardous driving behaviors.

If you have some experience with Operation Safe Cycle in the neighborhood, let us know in the comments.

Source: storem/Flickr

A 10-year-old girl was digging through the sand on Coney Island Monday afternoon when she uncovered a loaded handgun.

The girl and her mother were at the water’s edge near West 19th Street at approximately 2:15 p.m. on Monday when they found the .9mm pistol loaded with one bullet, according to the Daily News.

They brought it to a lifeguard who called police. The cops came, recovered the weapon and then destroyed it at the stationhouse.

The incident has local Councilman Mark Treyger reiterating his call for more Parks Enforcement Patrol officers on area beaches.

“Hearing that a child came across a loaded handgun while simply playing in the sand was shocking and concerning to say the least. I am very relieved that nobody was injured or killed as a result, and I am not willing to keep taking chances when it comes to the public’s safety in Coney Island. This must serve as a wakeup call to City Hall and the Parks Department regarding the need to provide additional Parks Enforcement Patrol officers to our community, especially given the increasing number of New Yorkers and tourists visiting Coney Island,” said Treyger, via press release.

Treyger also called for more PEP officers earlier this summer after 10-year-old Takara McDuffy drowned in Coney Island. The girl fell into the water after the beach was closed, and their were no lifeguards on duty. Treyger said PEP officers should be hired to patrol the beaches when they’re closed to ensure no one goes near the water.

The pol says that having more PEP officers on the beach would ease the burden on the 60th Precinct.

school classroom by Dan Nguyen

A new, more inclusionary approach to educate NYC students with special needs is proving easier said than done, says a new report by Chalkbeat. The organization spoke to students, parents, and school officials and found that schools are struggling to implement mandatory reforms to special education, while its effect on students is still unproven.

Integrating special needs students by enrolling them in general education classes, mixed classes (including typical and special needs students), or a combination of the two, was an idea first publicly introduced in 2003 by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The proposal was launched as a pilot at a limited number of city schools in 2010, and launched citywide in 2012. Chalkbeat, though, found that some schools lacked the resources and the scramble to implementation is leaving some of the neediest students behind.

Students affected by this Special Education Reform and interviewed by Chalkbeat each had unique experiences, some positive, some not. They include Joseph, a middle schooler with ADHD who was placed in mixed classes as per the city’s new policies, and for whom no purely special education classes were available when attempts to mainstream proved unsuccessful; Noah, whose mother Britt Sady pushed for his inclusion in a general education class so as to set higher standards for his learning and increase his chances of graduation; Christon Solomon, a middle schooler who says small learning sessions in special education classes work better for him than general education; and Thomas, who was suspended often in special education classes, but is doing better since being introduced to mainstream and mixed classes.

The experiences of parents and kids profiled are diverse, as are the abilities of the schools discussed to see that students’ needs are met–often, says Chalkbeat, schools simply aren’t provided with adequate staffing or financial resources to abide by the 2012 reforms. This is the case with Joseph–whose transfer to another school was finally approved only near the end of the school year, and presumably because his mother Clara, who works for the Department of Education, came armed with a certain amount of knowledge regarding red tape.

“Sometimes, if the parent doesn’t question [a school's inadequate handling of a special needs child's education], it just goes under the radar,” family advocate Olga Vazquez, of mental illness and developmental disability service support agency ICL, told the publication.

Certain schools are benefitting from reforms more than others. The article says funding is disproportionately doled out to schools with integrated classrooms instead of simply general and special education ones, and parents of both typical and special needs students at Harlem’s P.S. 112, for example, have requested mixed classes to enhance their kids’ educational experiences.

However the jury is still out, quantitatively speaking, on the effectiveness of integrating kids of different abilities into the same classrooms. Chalkbeat says some test scores have increased marginally, but others have not. What does appear to be clear is a widening discrepancy in disciplinary action being handed down to special needs students in mainstream classrooms, but DOE Deputy Chancellor Corinne Rello-Anselmi says Chancellor Carmen Fariña has no plans to overhaul the 2012 reforms.

If you’re an New York City educator or parent, what’s your take on the matter? Have you run into any of the problems stated in Chalkbeat’s article, or seen students improve under new policies? Should properly run mixed classrooms benefit all students–and what would running them properly entail of schools, teachers, and the DOE? How would funding and resources be distributed if you had it your way?

Photo by Dan Nguyen

The famed Harlem Gospel Choir. Source: harlemgospelchoir.com

The famed Harlem Gospel Choir. Source: harlemgospelchoir.com

Can I get an amen?

The world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir will have audiences on their feet, clapping and singing to their hearts’ content, tomorrow, August 13 at 5:00 p.m. The hour-long performance, appropriate for ages five and up, will take place at the Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) Coney Island Library, 1901 Mermaid Avenue near West 19th Street.

The performance is part of the library’s partnership with Lincoln Center Education (LCE), the educational cornerstone of Lincoln Center, to bring free music, theater and dance performances to BPL branches in August and September. We wrote about the debut performance at New Utrecht library last week.

Performing contemporary gospel with a touch of jazz and blues, the Harlem Gospel Choir is synonymous with power vocals, glorious sound and infectious energy. For more than two decades, they have been America’s premier gospel choir and have toured the globe, thrilling audiences with the inspirational power of black gospel music.

The performance will be followed by a question and answer session with the performers. Titled Lincoln Center Local Live (LCL), the series will culminate in a special presentation live-streamed from Lincoln Center’s campus.

To learn more, visit aboutlincolncenter.org/lclocal. Performers, dates and locations are subject to change. All seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

The construction site where the bus accident happened.

The construction site where the bus accident happened.

A driver lost control of a packed school bus, jumping the curb and plowing through a construction fence into a gas station yesterday.

The accident happened just after 5:00 p.m. at 18th Avenue and 60th Street, sending the driver to Lutheran Medical Center with minor injuries. None of the children were harmed, according to reports.

JPUpdates reports that the bus had at least 20 children aboard, who were returning from day camp. They add:

Witnesses on the scene say the driver lost control at 18th avenue and 53rd street, rolling for 7 street while crashing into cars until the bus stalled by crashing into the gas station that is under construction.

News 12 reports that the bus is affiliated with Yeshiva Yagdil Torah at 5104 18th Avenue. The station reports that the students were told by the driver that the brakes were failing, and just before jumping the curb he had swerved to avoid hitting a bicyclist.

Source: NYC Parks Department

In their battle against weeds and vermin, the New York City Parks Department is using a common pesticide that a new study suggests is associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and breast cancer.

The new concerns arise out of a study published in April by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that found that the commercially available pesticide Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is associated with lymphoma. A report this morning in DNAinfo found that the city has sprayed Roundup in public greenspaces more than 1,300 times last year alone.

The outlet reports:

The Parks Department sprays the pesticide, called Roundup, to kill weeds that harbor rats on “little-used” areas near playgrounds, officials said. The city posts warning signs for 24 hours before and after spraying.

“In order to keep rats out of the playgrounds and meadow areas, we must use Roundup,” Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said. “It is not used inside playgrounds but is often used on little-used slopes outside playgrounds precisely because overgrown weeds near playgrounds harbor rats.”

The city defended its use of Roundup, which was sprayed in public parks 1,365 times in 2013. That was a 22 percent increase from the previous year as officials phased out other weed-killing chemicals that were deemed more toxic, according to a Health Department report.

The agency would not tell the outlet which parks had been sprayed, or how often.

The outlet also noted a study published last year suggesting that glyphosate effects hormones linked to breast cancer.

While extreme critics say the city should stop using pesticides in parks altogether, some say it’s sufficient to leave signs up for 72 hours after spraying, not 24. However, the city cites statistics from the manufacturer, Monsanto, that claim the product becomes harmless after 24 hours. The agency also insists that pesticides are not sprayed in commonly used areas, but only along overgrown, out-of-the-way sections.

As for Monsanto, they’re dismissing the study’s conclusion.

“Comprehensive toxicological studies repeated over the last 40 years have time and again demonstrated that glyphosate…does not cause cancer, mutagenic effects, nervous system effects, immune system effects, endocrine disruption, birth defects or reproductive problems,” company spokeswoman Charla Lord told DNAinfo.

Although it appears the city will continue to use pesticides in playgrounds, the state has banned pesticides from use in other child-friendly areas.

In 2010, Governor Paterson signed the Child Safe Playing Field Act, which prohibits schools and day care centers from applying pesticides to any playground, turf or athletic playing field out of concern for children’s health.

According to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation:

Potential harm from pesticides is especially important to consider in schools and day care centers because children are at greater risk from chemical exposure. Children are not little adults – from infants to teens, they are growing and developing. Their bodies have not yet reached developmental maturity. This means that they are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of many pesticides and other chemicals. Behaviors of young children, such as putting things in their mouths and crawling on the floor, put them at additional risk from pesticide exposure.

Source: ataferner/Flickr

D LINE

There are no service advisories scheduled at this time.

N LINE

All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

R LINE

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, there are no R trains in Brooklyn between 59 St and 36 St—take the N instead. R trains run in Brooklyn between Bay Ridge-95 St and 59 St.

All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

F LINE

There are no service advisories scheduled at this time.

flier-rewardA $1,000 reward is now on the table for information leading to the arrest of those who distributed anti-Muslim fliers in at least one of the Shore Haven apartment buildings near Cropsey Avenue and 21st Avenue in Bath Beach.

The fliers were found throughout the building two weeks ago, showing a hateful message calling Muslims “the second holocaust” and claims “USA hates you”.

The NYPD Hate Crimes Unit is investigating, but it appears unlikely that they will identify a suspect.

But the cops have new allies in Tony and Renee Giordano, a Sunset Park couple known in the area’s business community and neighborhood preservationists. The couple is offering the reward, hoping it will make someone with information more likely to come forward.

Brooklyn Eagle reports:

Giordano recalled that he turned to his wife after reading a newspaper article about the incident and said, “It isn’t enough that we tell people this offends us, we have to do more. Would it be all right with you if we offer a $1,000 reward?” His wife immediately agreed, he said.

Renee Giordano made a series of phone calls to get the proper wording for the reward flyer from the Police Department’s Crime Stopper division.

Tony Giordano created an online reward flier and posted it to his 2,100 friends on Facebook. The reward poster instructs anyone with information to call the Crime Stopper hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.

If the reward is not claimed the couple said they will donate the money to a pro-tolerance campaign in the Sunset Park community, according to the Eagle.

Source: IntExp7/Flickr

The MTA took a fourth N train out of service for fumigation on Friday after finding more bed bugs in the system.

The first bed bugs were found last Sunday, with two trains taken out of service. An additional N train was taken out of service after another discovery on Monday. A 5 line train was also taken out of service on Friday after a rider reported seeing a bed bug on a homeless man, making it five infestations so far.

The Daily News had previously reported that the critters were found in conductors’ seat cushions and not in the general seating area, although the MTA is staying mum on where the latest bugs were found.

The paper says that a conductor’s home was infested with bed bugs, and the parasites also turned up in the lockers of two N train crew workers.

“This is a very annoying and possibly costly infestation if it gets back to fellow employees homes, cars and possessions,” Kevin Harrington, a vice president with Transport Workers Union Local 100, wrote to MTA leadership that was shared with the paper. “Some of our fellow employees are experiencing great trepidation concerning possible infestation of their personal effects, cars and homes.”

Harrington called for the entire line to be fumigated, which the MTA said was not an option. However, the agency is dispatching dogs capable of sniffing out the bed bugs throughout train line.

quakcer-float

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI): Here are some of the big stories you may have missed this week. You can keep up with what’s going on in the neighborhood all week long. Just follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our daily newsletter. If you have any news tips, story ideas, questions or anything else, e-mail us at editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Brooklyn…