Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Oasis' Flies Caution Flag Robinson School Wary after Attacks

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Oasis' Flies Caution Flag Robinson School Wary after Attacks

Article excerpt

A six-foot iron fence separates Andrew A. Robinson Elementary

School and its young students from the sometimes dangerous

streets and desperate residents that surround them.

By all accounts, the school is a source of pride for the Duval

County school district. It's one of the two newest schools in

the city and houses computer labs and video production rooms

that aim to prepare kids to be scientists, mathematicians and


Principal Carolyn Chambliss calls the Springfield school an

oasis and says it is a source of comfort and safety for

neighborhood children.

But three times in the past two months, that sense of security

has been shattered when the violent outside world crashed in on

the school and its people.

On Thursday, an adult student and her 4-year-old daughter were

approached by a man with a gun who tried to steal their van just

outside the school. The woman put up a struggle and a shot was

fired, but no one was hit, police said.

On Jan. 7, a teacher was robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot

before school began. Three days later, a 13-year-old crossing

guard on her way to school was taken to a back porch and raped

about six blocks away, police said.

No arrests were made, and the teacher who was robbed quickly

transferred to another school, Chambliss said.

Thursday's attempted carjacking has school officials, police

and parents worried that a pattern of violence may be developing

which could jeopardize the safety of kids, parents, teachers or

anyone connected to the school.

"It's OK for us to say no one was hurt and it turned out all

right, but it's not all right," said school board member Susan

Wilkinson. "One time is too many, an isolated incident here or

there, but when it begins to add up in a short period of time,

then that takes some serious analysis."

The school, on the northeast corner of Pearl and West 12th

streets, is 5 years old. Of its 1,100 students, about 25 percent

are bused in as part of the district's magnet program, Chambliss

said. The rest live near the school.

Some parents who waited to pick up their children Friday were

upset over the violence that has plagued the school recently.

And at least one parent, Pat Austin, said she is thinking about

transferring her son to another school.

"I hope they do something about it," said Austin, who waited on

her son Roger, 10. "It's a good school, but I'm afraid of a lot

of the things that have been happening."

Nancy Gamez said the violence convinced her to pick up her two

daughters, Maria, 10 and Consuela, 8, on Friday, even though the

family lives a few blocks away and the girls usually walk.

"I think it's the drugs in the neighborhood," Gamez said.

"People get desperate and see what they can get away with. …

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