When Kids From a Ritzy Private School Burned Down a Public School Playground, Parents Somehow Took It As a Class Issue


About a half a month ago, a group of kids who were thought to be from the prestigious St. Ann’s private school traveled fourteen blocks over to Public School 29, another strong educational institution. Planning to make a YouTube video, they set fire to PS 29’s playground. They fled before firefighters could arrive to put out the blaze, but four underage kids have been arrested and two 16-year-old St. Ann’s students have surrendered to police. (All of them are thought to attend the private school, according to the Times.) Some parents see this as a case of “teenagers being teenagers,” while others see the crime as indicative of a larger class issue.

Max Layton, the son of film distributor Charles Layton, is one of the kids accused. His lawyer helped set up a $50,000 fund to fix the playground after the damage. The response to this gesture is almost more telling of the class situation than the fire itself:

People here seek community service, some degree of standing up and taking the blame, rather than setting up some $50,000 fund,” said Gary Dovey, 50, of Cobble Hill, who was collecting his twins from prekindergarten at P.S. 29 on Monday. Mr. Dovey added: “I think it’s a good start, but this really isn’t an issue of money in the end. It’s about the process of law, and it not being brushed under the carpet and a plea deal.” 

It tells you something about the class makeup at PS 29 itself when parents just brush aside “some $50,000 fund” as though it’s a bunch of pennies on the sidewalk.

After a Fire, a Tension Between Two Schools [NYT]