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Feb 20, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: School was warned about dangerous student years before stabbing


A mother warned administrators at a troubled Bronx school that her son was hiding knives in his backpack — and had been “pulling knives on his family” — three years before he was charged in the fatal stabbing of a classmate, the Daily News has learned.


Months after the Sept. 27, 2017, stabbing death of Matthew McCree, 15, allegedly by Abel Cedeno, 18, at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, the victim’s mom, Louna Dennis, says she was anonymously leaked a memo about a voicemail from Cedeno’s mother, Luz Hernandez.


Dennis read the May 28, 2014 memo — which Cedeno’s lawyers said was presented at his grand jury — to The News.


“This morning I received a voicemail message from Abel Cedeno’s mother informing me that she discovered a knife in Abel’s backpack,” then-school dean Justin Keating wrote, according to the memo.

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“She informed me that he has been bringing knives to school. The voicemail was out of concern for our students and staff safety because he has a history of pulling knives on his family. This is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.”


Dennis was outraged to learn the school had gotten a warning about the potential dangers, and that her son wasn’t saved.


“The school failed my son and my family one hundred percent — big time,” said Dennis.


Dennis’s lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said the memo “shows that the school and the Department of Education was on notice and knew a danger existed” at the school long before Matthew was stabbed to death.

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Rubenstein has filed a notice of claim against the DOE and NYPD for failing to protect the students by not installing metal detectors despite two incidents involving weapons at the school.


In the September bloodshed, a cell phone video showed Cedeno charging into a classroom, armed with a switchblade knife, and stabbing McCree in the stomach.


Cedeno told authorities he was bullied by other students over his sexuality and snapped when McCree hit him with a pencil and threw a paper ball at him.


Toya Holness, a spokeswoman from the DOE, declined to comment, but said, “The safety of students and staff is our top priority and we have provided the school with additional safety supports (last school year and after the tragedy).”

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A Bronx grand jury, which declined to indict Cedeno for murder, charged him with manslaughter, assault and weapons charges. He has pleaded not guilty and was released from Rikers Island on 0,000 bond.


Cedeno’s lawyers, Robert Feldman and Christopher Lynn, railed about the leaked memo, saying it shows Keating’s negligence and is a “distraction” from the criminal case.


“(Cedeno) swore under oath that he was going to get raped and told the dean and the dean ignored it,” Lynn said. “He was told to buck it up and be a man, he was only 14-years-old.”


The lawyer said the mother’s reference to a knife in her son’s backpack in 2014 was a butter knife.

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Lynn also questioned how grand jury evidence ended up “floating around.”


Repeated calls to Hernandez for comment were not returned.


Since the violence, dozens of students have transferred out, the principal was reassigned and the school is on a list of those slated to close.

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School was warned about dangerous student years before stabbing

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