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Crossing Guards

Parents Call on Mayor to Restore Crossing Guard Funding After 7-Year-Old’s Death

Parents, teachers, students and NYCHA residents will rally Thursday morning at the Fort Greene corner where an NYPD tow truck driver killed 7-year-old Kamari Hughes.

Photo: David Meyer|

The victim’s kick scooter was still at the scene hours later.

You don't want to cross them.

A group of parents, teachers, students and NYCHA residents will rally Thursday morning at the Fort Greene corner where an NYPD tow truck driver killed 7-year-old Kamari Hughes to demand Mayor Adams reverse cuts to the city's crossing guard budget.

Kamari HughesFacebook

Members of the Brooklyn Street Safety Coalition will convene at 8:30 a.m. at the corner of N. Portland Ave and Myrtle Ave where Hughes died last month after the driver — who witnesses said was on her phone — plowed into him in the crosswalk. Cardboard cutouts of crossing guards at the deadly intersection will represent the staffing shorting.

"With expanded city funding, real crossing guards could be protecting our children as they walk to school," said Kay White, the PTSO Co-Chair at Brooklyn Prospect Downtown Elementary School.

"Instead, we have only these cardboard cutouts. These streets and intersections have already proven to be deadly, and we need the mayor to restore funding to the city’s crossing guards before 2024."

The cardboard cutouts aren't simply decorative — they'll also be interactive, with QR codes linking to the crossing guard job application "because the mayor said it's a hard job to fill and that no one wants the job," White said.

In May, the Adams administration announced an 18-percent reduction in school crossing guard positions across the city — a move officials said would save just $7.5 million from the city's $106 billion budget. In the wake of the crash that killed Hughes, Mayor Adams vowed to daylight 1,000 intersections per year in the city, but City Hall has not committed to beefing up its crossing guard roster.

Even before the most recent cuts, the number of crossing guards was reduced by 26 percent between fiscal year 2019 and April 2022 — dropping from 3,000 to 2,200.

Parents noticed a brief uptick in crossing guards around Brooklyn after the October crash, White said, but their presence has diminished in recent weeks.

The process of getting a crossing guard for a school is time consuming and based on outside factors instead of safety, White said.

"We lobbied for three years to get a crossing guard at our school, and the only reason we got one is because a parent had connections at City Hall," she said. "But what about the parents who don't have connections at City Hall?"

Schools Chancellor David Banks, meanwhile, recently claimed the issue of crossing guards and street safety had not been broached with him in his time in charge of city schools, according to the Vision Zero Youth Council, a student-run street safety organization — even though Streetsblog asked Banks about the issue to his face on multiple occasions in the last two years.

An award-winning 2022 investigation by Streetsblog into crashes on streets near schools found that, on days when schools are in session, there are 57 percent more crashes and 25 percent more injuries per mile on streets near schools than other city streets.

Crossing guards — essentially the only line of defense for kids against oncoming drivers — face routine harassment from drivers, Streetsblog has found.

Drivers injured dozens of guards over the past decade. A driver killed a crossing guard in Queens in October just six days before Hughes's death.

City Hall did not immediately return a request for comment.

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