Mom of slain teen says DOE failed her son — and his killer

The mother of the Bronx teen who was stabbed to death by a classmate last fall said the city Education Department not only failed her son, but his young killer, too.

“We know where the real damage is coming from,” said Louna Dennis, mom of 15-year-old Matthew McCree, who was slain by fellow student Abel Cedeno at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation on Sept. 27.

“It’s the school to be blamed at the end of the day,” Dennis said. “If they had done what they needed to do, knowing there was an issue within the school before all of this took place, I would not be sitting here right now talking to you.”

Dennis spoke to The Post after its exposé on mismanagement at the school, ripping into DOE officials for allowing the implementation of a less stringent set of disciplinary rules at UA before her son’s death.

Dennis, who has said she plans to sue the district for $25 million, insisted that her son’s murder could have been prevented if the school had left things how they were at the once-safe institution, where 86 percent of teachers and 80 percent of students said they felt safe in 2013.

But under Mayor de Blasio, in 2015-16, the DOE began scaling back suspensions and making rosy statistics a priority over school safety, critics have said. Teachers told The Post that under the new guidelines, they were required to provide documentation of at least three instances of bad behavior before punishment could be meted out.

Once the paperwork was filed, principals were still required to get approval from a central office — which often rejected the requests, according to teachers.

“Myself and other parents didn’t know about all these cover-ups,’’ Dennis said. “If it was to be reported, we would’ve known what steps to take as far as protecting our kids.”

The mom’s lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said, “The New York Post has given the public a comprehensive piece of investigative reporting, which clearly demonstrates the New York City Department of Education has blood on its hands. The blood of Matthew McCree.”

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McCree was stabbed to death by Cedeno, who had been bullied for his sexuality. Cedeno, 18, used a switchblade to kill McCree and stab another student, Ariane Laboy, who survived.

Dennis said she knew “for a fact” that her son wasn’t a bully. She said it was clear that Cedeno had been picked on by other students — but his issues were never addressed by administrators.

The mom said she found out about the school’s alleged lax policies too late. “All these things are coming out after a life has been lost,’’ she said.

But either way, Dennis wants Cedeno to serve jail time. She said she’d feel the same way if her son had been the aggressor.

The mom said she has been living a waking “nightmare” — and hasn’t slept in her apartment — since her son’s death. But she continues to fight so her family can receive justice.

“As long as I’m here and I’m breathing — and I have strength — something has to get done,” Dennis said. “I wouldn’t even wish this on my worst enemy.”

With Chris Perez

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