SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Just over a week into the school year and Syracuse City School District’s Henninger High School closed its doors to students on Thursday, not for a COVID outbreak, but for unfinished construction.
“I have been waiting for contractors to get the work done and I said enough is enough,” Superintendent Jaime Alicea said.
The decision to close the school to students on Thursday was made late Wednesday afternoon after a day of chaos filled the school both inside and outside the building.
Superintendent Alicea said two fights broke out during the school day, one triggered after a student pulled the fire alarm and another that took place at the end of the school day.
Syracuse Police said one fight resulted in the arrest of a 17-year-old boy, who is not a student of the Syracuse City School District, for disorderly conduct. The school administration also said another person was detained during a fight, but not arrested.
The school also went on a temporary lockout when Syracuse Police say a report came in of a suspicious person with a weapon in the neighborhood but those allegations were unfounded. There was also a report of a person who wasn’t enrolled in the school inside the building with a gun, but Syracuse Police say they found that person on school property and no gun was found.
After the school day was over, Superintendent Alicea said he met with staff to discuss what had gone wrong and many teachers brought up security issues that had not been completed in the construction over the summer.
These issues included a number of teachers’ doors without locks on them in the new wing, fire alarms without covers on them, security cameras not working, and problems with the PA system.
Superintendent Alicea said these issues are what prompted him to make the decision late Wednesday afternoon to keep kids home Thursday so the school could resolve these structural issues.
Again, we had been working with the contractors and I have been going to the building on a regular basis checking, we were told this is going to be taken care of, this is gonna be taken care of this week, but we waited, nothing happened and I said enough, we’re going to take care of that ourselves.Superintendent Jaime Alicea
In response to these safety concerns, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, “It’s unacceptable, it absolutely should not have happened and those that are responsible for it need to be held accountable.”
Superintendent Alicea said almost all of the issues were fixed during the day Wednesday and as for the behavioral issues, he said they would be hiring more security guards and adding another Syracuse Police Officer to the building. He does expect students to return to the classroom Friday.