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Who’s on guard? Residents question security at school where teen fell

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The tight-lipped Department of Education won’t say how it was guarding an under-construction Bergen Beach middle school the night a 15-year-old boy plummeted to his death from atop the building’s roof — and residents say that there is little security at the scaffolding-covered school after work crews go home, making it a prime target for another tragedy.

The Department of Education claims that security guards routinely monitor Roy H. Mann JHS at E. 68th Street near Veterans Avenue — which has been undergoing facade work since last August — but wouldn’t say how the building was guarded last Tuesday night when Nicholas Gryak and several friends scaled the scaffolding surrounding the block-long building.

Gryak, a resident of E. 72nd Street, managed to get to the top of the five-story building at 10:15 pm, but when he and his friends tried to get down, Gryak tumbled into a chimney shaft — falling five floors to his death.

Now residents want to know when and by whom the school is being watched — if it is at all.

“I’ve only seen a security guard here twice during all this time,” said Lauren Mishkin, who lives across the street from the school and saw the kids atop the building.

Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said someone monitors the school after the construction crew closes up shop for the night — which is usually at about 9 pm.

“Security is provided when the contractor leaves the premise for the day,” she said.

But she refused to comment on how the school is monitored, how many guards are assigned to the school, or if those guards monitor more than one school in the area — claiming that all of our queries were part of an “ongoing police investigat­ion.”

“We cannot comment further without compromising the investigat­ion,” she said.

Gryak’s devastated friends are demanding that the construction project at the school be halted to prevent other kids from suffering the 15-year-old’s fate, and that security be stepped up.

“They should pull it down after what happened,” said Justin Clibanoff, Gryak’s neighbor. “They should have also had some security. [Gryak] was like a brother to me and I can’t get over what happened.”

Friends said Gryak, who died at the school, was an avid baseball fan and skateboarder who graduated from Roy H. Mann and was attending James Madison High School.

Gryak was also known for his easy-going attitude.

“[Gryak was] always the one to tell me to live life and forget the drama,” Bergen Beach teen Jessica Scherillo noted in a banner filled with messages to the fallen teen during a memorial service outside the school.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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