4 THE QUEENS COURIER • OCTOBER 3, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Queens Success Academy students rally for new middle school
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
In a bright sea of orange T-shirts with
the slogan #KidsOverPolitics, more than
4,000 parents, teachers and scholars from
four Success Academy schools in Queens
united at Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans
Th ursday demanding Mayor Bill de Blasio
fulfi ll his promise of building a middle
school for Success students.
Families from Springfi eld Gardens,
Rosedale, South Jamaica and Far Rockaway
expressed concerns about their children’s
educational future at the rally, where thousands
chanted “#KidsOverPolitics” and
“If you are a NYC public school parent,
you know how rare it is to fi nd a school
that both you and your child love,” said
Pershemia Milliard, a Success Academy
Far Rockaway parent. “Th at’s what we’ve
found at Success. My husband and I are so
worried — we will be heartbroken if our
son has to leave.”
Located in Districts 27 and 29, the fi ve
Queens Success Academies are among the
state’s highest-achieving schools; they also
rank in the top 15 of all Queens K-8
schools. Th ere are 2,000 Queens scholars
in the four Success elementary schools
alone, and another 3,000 on this year’s
waitlist, according to Success Academy.
About 87 percent of students are children
of color and 69 percent receive free and
Success Academy fi rst requested a middle
school location in January 2017, for
the fi rst class of SA Rosedale graduates,
who needed a middle school for the 2018-
19 school year. At the time, City Hall
told Success representatives that a building
Queens Success Academy Charter School students protest at St. Alban’s Roy Wilkins Park calling for
Mayor Bill de Blasio to build a new middle school.
would be available in 2019, but not
before. As a compromise, Success agreed to
combine incoming middle-schoolers from
Rosedale with their peers from Springfi eld
Gardens for a temporary one-year solution.
Aft er more than two years of waiting
for classrooms promised by the de
Blasio administration in 2017, there is not
enough space for all scholars graduating
from the four elementary schools.
“We need a middle school for my son. He’s
in fourth grade and right now they don’t
have any, so next year he’s not even sure
if he’ll be in Success Academy anymore,”
said parent Kim Hema, whose 10-yearold
son attends Springfi eld Gardens
Success Academy at 132-55 Ridgedale St.
“I feel unsure, hurt and scared to be honest
because Success Academy did a lot for
him. Educational wise he was behind for
about two years and they brought him up
to where he was supposed to be and actually
beyond where he is right now.”
Photo by Carlotta Mohamed/QNS
Queens families are increasingly anxious
that no specifi c location has been identifi
ed. While the administration recently
began publicly repeating its promise
of a Queens middle school for Success,
no details have been released. Without a
confi rmed middle school location, 227
fi ft h-graders will be forced to leave Success
Academy or travel to another borough.
More than half of the public school students
would go to their zoned schools
— 36 of the most overcrowded district
schools in southeast Queens.
Twin sisters Gabby and Grace Ekpeti,
who are fourth-graders at Success
Academy South Jamaica at 120-25 141st
St., said they would be thrilled if their message
gets through to the mayor to build
another middle school.
“If we did, then all the kids who want
to go to this success academy that are in
fourth grade and want to go into fi ft h
grade, they can easily come into success
academy from another school,” Grace said.
“If we don’t get a middle school, we’ll have
to go back to being in a public school and if
we do that, the teachers wouldn’t be able to
push us like how I got 4’s on my state test.”
“We want to have a middle school and
we want to learn more education at Success
Academy because last year when we were
doing the state test it was hard but our
teachers pushed us through,” Gabby said.
Th eir mother, Osa Ekpeti, said she’s holding
the mayor accountable to get the job
done of constructing a Success Academy
middle school in Queens.
“I know the city has space, Queens has
space. Th ere’s a building on Rockaway
Boulevard that used to house Our Ladies
Catholic Academy and that building is
empty,” Ekpeti said. “Why can’t we have
it? Th e mayor has promised and since we
voted for him, he needs to live up to his
promise. We need a middle school and we
need it now.”
Like the DOE, Success Academy has
a placement process for incoming middle
schoolers that determines which
school a scholar will attend. Parents rank
their choice of middle schools, and priority
is given to scholars with siblings and by
their family’s geographic proximity to the
school. Without a specifi c location for the
additional Queens middle school, student
placement cannot be determined.
“Th e mayor has a double standard when
it comes to Charter school parents,” said
Eva Moscowitz, founder and CEO of
Success Academy Charter Schools. “Th ey
are public school parents, and their children
deserve a space to learn. We will not
stand for the mayor abandoning our children.
When there was a school in Tribeca
that was in the same situation, the mayor
swooped in and saved them. What about
us? What about our kids?”
Two men cuff ed in Delta heist at JFK Airport
BY BILL PARRY
A second man has been arrested in connection
with his role in the theft of a bag
containing approximately $258,205 in bulk
cash at Kennedy Airport on Sept. 24.
Emmanuel Asuquo Okon, 33, a resident
of Springfi eld Gardens, was arrested
over the weekend by the FBI and arraigned
Monday in Brooklyn federal court for
allegedly helping Quincy Th orpe, 40, carry
out the heist.
Authorities cuff ed Quincy Th orpe, 40, at
his Brooklyn home on Sept. 26 and he was
arraigned in Brooklyn federal court later
in the day.
According to the criminal complaint, an
armored vehicle delivered eight bags of cash
to the airport to be transported to Miami on
Sept. 24. Federal authorities say Th orpe, a
baggage handler for Delta Ground Services,
was responsible for scanning and loading
the eight bags onto the Delta fl ight.
When the baggage was off -loaded in
Miami it was discovered one bag was missing.
Federal prosecutors say the stolen bag
contained bulk cash in U.S. and foreign currency
of approximately $258,205 in value.
Security surveillance footage obtained
from Delta shows Th orpe scanning and
loading some of the eight bags onto Flight
1225 at Gate C-70, but not scanning the
stolen bag, instead placing it in a container
attached to a vehicle that he drove off in.
Additionally, the other seven bags, which
were loaded onto the plane, were scanned
by a scanner with an identifi cation unique
to the defendant, according to the criminal
Additional surveillance video obtained
by the FBI shows Th orpe driving the
Delta Airlines van to a parking lot behind
Building 21 where a blue Nissan Sentra
arrived and pulled up alongside the van.
Th e video shows the Nissan was driven by
a black male with a beard, which is consistent
with the appearance of Okon, and
a witness positively identifi ed Okon as the
Sentra driver as the defendant, according to
the criminal complaint.
Two minutes aft er the Sentra arrived,
both vehicles left at the same time. Th e
Delta Airlines van returned to the Terminal
2 secured area of operations. As the van proceeded
through the security checkpoint the
video shows Th orpe was no longer in the
vehicle but minutes later Th orpe entered
Terminal 2 using his security identifi cation.
Interviews with witnesses identifi ed
Okon as a friend and close associate of
Th orpe whose domestic partner owns a
blue Nissan Sentra.
On Sunday, Sept. 29, law enforcement
located the blue Nissan Sentra registered
to the defendant Okon’s domestic partner
in Springfi eld Gardens who consented to a
search of the vehicle. During the search, an
FBI agent found an envelope containing a
transfer manifest belonging to the Victim
Security Company and a Delta Air Waybill for
the Sept. 24 fl ight 1225, and associated with
“Piece 8 of 8.” Okon is not an employee of the
Victim Security Company or Delta Airlines.
Okon was charged with theft from interstate
shipment and released on $80,000
Photo via Shutterstock
A second man has been busted in connection with the Delta Airlines heist at JFK International
Airport last week.