Hofstra Journalism student, Andre Akamine was ignorant about the
gang problem in the Freeport schools until he came across the
Freeport Superintendent In Ozone
A "Sign of the Times," a story
about the gang problems in Freeport's schools.
Akamine was inspired enough to investigate the story himself,
after, according to Akamine, he was told that neither Freeport's
School Superintendent Eversley, nor Freeport's Chief of Police, Mike
Woodward would speak to him. Akamine told FreeportNYNews (FNYN),
"Nobody would talk to me, so I decided to come to Freeport and
interview the kids."
On Friday afternoon, December 13, Akamine and his crew of two
grabbed a video camera and arrived across the street from the front
of Freeport High School.
Akamine said that as soon as the camera was set up and they began
interviewing he was set upon by two members of the school
administration, who a student identified as Assistant Principal
Gallo and Dean Elan. According to one of the students, it was Dean
Elan who asked Akamine, "Hey, you guys got permits for this?"
Akamine said he told the two administrators he was on the street,
which is a public place and he didn't need permits. Gesturing to two
students he said, "These two kids were going to talk to me and she
[Gallo] said, "'Oh, you two guys, you can talk to him, but I would
really appreciate if you wouldn't.'" Akamine asked your reporter,
"What is wrong with this place?"
To diffuse the situation, Akamine moved down the street from the
front of the school. When FNYN arrived on the scene, Assistant
Superintendent Joshua Starr was with the Hofstra crew and a bunch of
students. As your reporter approached, Starr took off back into the
Your reporter asked Akamine what Starr had to say. Akamine said,
waving a copy of the FNYN story, "Starr said we were doing a bull
sh_t piece and told us to look at our sources."
Akamine then began interviewing some of the students that had
gathered around the Hofstra crew.
Akamine asked if there were gangs in the school and if there was
A female student answered, "Yeah, everybody knows about it."
your reporter asked the students how many gangs were in the school
the answers came fast and furious. "There is a lot of them." "There
is one gang that is the problem. They are from El Salvador. The MS
13." "At Halloween, they shot at my friend."
Freeport's secretive Mayor, William F. Glacken has said that the
gang situation in Freeport is no different than it is in Garden City
or Great Neck, a remark which has been seconded by his Deputy Mayor,
Renier Frierson, Nassau County's former Commissioner of Human
Your reporter followed up, "Do you think there is a gang problem
in the school?"
The group responded without hesitation, "Yeah, there is." "The
cops are not doing anything about Maja [MS 13]."
Your reporter asked, "Are the police in the school a lot?"
One of the girls responded, "Not really, but they are always
trying to break up something. They are usually on the block, though,
like after school."
One of the male students chimed in. "There was a big fight in the
cafeteria fourth period," explaining that he thought three gangs
Your reporter pointed to two Freeport Police cars parked directly
in front of the entrance to the school, asking, "Are they here every
All the students agreed that the police cars were there every
One of the boys said, "I feel safe in Freeport High School. I
stay around my good friends and that's how it is."
Another boy said, "They have cameras everywhere. It's an invasion
One of the girls said about the safety in the school, "It's not
that safe. They have cameras all over the school. When they do bag
checks, they don't even search through your stuff."
Another girl volunteered, "The MS13. The teachers, the police.
They're all scared of them."
A different girl, "I live in a building where all of them are
there every day and the cops will be there and they won't do
All the students thought that the new principal, Mike Courtney,
Freeport High School's fourth principal in five years, was a good
principal and was trying his best "to do good for this school." A
student said, "I heard there's a lot of people being expelled."
After the Hofstra crew packed up, your reporter talked with both
Akamine and Assistant Superintendent Starr by phone.
Akamine told your reporter that Starr had told him, "You are
trying to do a sensational story with facts you cannot prove."
All the statistics in the FNYN story,
Freeport Superintendent In Ozone
A "Sign of the Times," were
quoted from the statistics used by the district in their Magnet
School Grant Application.
At 3 p.m. your reporter had a brief conversation with Asst. Supt.
Starr, who, considering the wall of silence that District
Superintendent Eversley and the School Board have built, was polite
and surprisingly candid,.
Your reporter asked Starr, "Have you read the Magnet Grant and do
you think the gang related numbers in the report are accurate?"
Starr answered, "Not having read the report, I wouldn't know."
Your reporter followed up, "What did you tell the Hofstra
reporter when he was trying to interview the students?"
Starr said, "I told him he needs to get balanced sources for his
Your reporter asked, "Do you think the numbers in the Magnet
School Grant Application were boosted on the application?"
Starr replied, "I wouldn't imagine that the numbers were
In a conversation with Police Chief Woodward held before
Freeport's Superintendent In the Ozone was published, your
reporter asked Woodward about the gang statistics in the grant
"Chief, do you believe those numbers were accurate?"
Woodward replied, "We never gave them those numbers."
Your reporter asked, "Do you know where they got them?"
Woodward responded, "I have no idea. I know they didn't come from
Earlier in the afternoon, Akamine asked the students, "The
administration says the problem is not that bad. Do you think the
problem is not that bad?"
One of the girls went right to the heart of the matter, "The
thing is us kids have to deal with them more than the adults. If
they say there is not a problem, that's because they are not in the
middle of it. They are not walking home from school and having to
have to run because Maja comes after us with guns."