|Abel Cedeno, left and Matthew McCree, right|
The murder of teen Mathew McCree on September 27, 2017, while he was sitting in history class at Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx, may be the event that spurs change at the New York City Department of Education. And yet, maybe not.
In New York City students, parents and school staff, especially teachers, have protested the lack of appropriate discipline in NYC schools for many years. See:
Fatal Stabbing Highlights Persistent Problems at Bronx Middle School (2014)
Safety Last: New York City's Public Schools Are More Dangerous Than Ever (2016):
The key findings of Safety Last are:
" Alarming Spike in Violence in City Schools: The number of violent incidents in city schools rose sharply last year, under Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina's first full year managing the Department of Education -- from 12,978 in 2013-14 to 15,934 in 2014-15, a disturbing 23 percent increase; School Violence Index at Recorded High: New York City's School Violence Index (SVI) rose by 22 percent in 2014-5, the highest level recorded. New York State uses the SVI to determine which schools are "persistently dangerous," as required by federal law. The School Violence Index is a ratio of violent incidents to enrollment in a school and is determined by the number of incidents, the seriousness of the incidents, and the school's enrollment; Data Suggests de Blasio Administration is Misleading Public: Data suggests that Mayor de Blasio's assertion that crime in city schools is down 29 percent since 2011-12, most recently invoked during his State of the City this month, is at best an incomplete picture. There were more than twice as many "assaults with physical injur[ies]" reported by city schools to the State Education Department than total number of crimes under Mayor de Blasio's calculations; Students at Grave Risk in City Schools: The alarming spike in violence in city schools makes it difficult for students to learn and leaves students in serious risk of danger and bodily harm: A violent incident occurs in district schools every 4.5 minutes; A weapon is recovered in district schools once every 28.4 minutes; Few students are protected: 93% of the city's district school students attend schools where a violent incident has occurred over the past year; In the five months since the 2015-2016 school year began, 42 weapons have been confiscated from 36 elementary schools across the city."
No one is doing anything about it, except covering it up. The case of Eileen Ghastin is a case which shows the New York City Department of Education policy of not giving violent students the appropriate help and guidance they need. The boy who told Ms. Ghastin that he was a boxer and was going to beat her up was given a short suspension and when he returned to school, he broke a window in anger. He needs help, not discipline.
I see the "all students are little angels" policy at work in 3020-a charges, where the NYC Department of Education always blames the teacher: a fight between two or more students shows a lack of classroom management; intervention by a teacher to stop a fight is corporal punishment and misconduct by the teacher; telling a student to stop hurting other students is charged as verbal abuse in 3020-a Specifications, etc.. In Eileen's case, she tried to stop the student from beating her up by telling him she was going to "kill him". She saw that she needed to do something to stop him, and believed that this was the only way. Of course she did not mean it. The arbitrator gave her a fine because he was convinced that the student was embarrassed by the media coverage of the event in the NYPOST, even though the newspaper did not name him. See:
Stellar, Dedicated Teacher Eileen Ghastin Fights the Arbitrator's Decision To Suspend Her For Four Weeks After Almost Being Beaten Up in Her Class
In 2010, two years before the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown Connecticut, I received a telephone call from an anxious parent whose children had attended the school, and she begged me to help her get services for special needs students in Newtown before somebody went "postal" and people would be harmed. I made many calls to the school board and policymakers. All requests fell into a black hole.
But we know that special education services are not being supplied properly, and the NYC Department of Education is covering this up too. See:
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Sues New York City Department Of Education For Discrimination And Retaliation At Pan American International High School
What the NYC DOE needs to do is hire a General Counsel who can set up an Office of Accountability and Guidance. This office will be given the responsibility of providing each event with a team to find out who did what, and how. I suggest disbanding the Office of Special Investigations and the Office of Equal Opportunity, as wholly-owned agencies of the NYC DOE and compromised by their allegiance to the bias ingrained in the Department against holding the true culprits accountable for anything. Discipline is not always the answer. There is no set standard for what kind of suspension will "teach him/her a lesson to not harm someone" again.
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials
|In the days after Mr. McCree’s death, a memorial grew in the courtyard behind his home in the Bronx.|
|Police and others at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, a middle and high school that |
shares a building with P.S. 67.
By Danielle Barnes, Janon Fisher and Amy Zimmer | |
|The mother of a New York City public school student, a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit, spoke about her son’s mistreatment outside the Education Department’s headquarters on Thursday.|
The class-action suit, filed on Wednesday in New York’s Eastern District against the New York City Education Department and its chancellor, Carmen Fariña, claims that violence in schools is increasing, and that it is often underreported. The suit also says that school violence disproportionately affects certain groups of students, like those who are black, Hispanic, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The suit, which claims the Education Department has failed “to address and remediate in-school violence in New York City’s public schools,” was filed by 11 students and their families. They were joined by Families for Excellent Schools, a pro-charter advocacy group that has been a fierce and frequent critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s education policies.
The group’s chief executive, Jeremiah Kittredge, held a news conference on Thursday morning in front of the Education Department’s headquarters in Manhattan, to encourage other public school parents to join the suit.
The group’s picture of violence in the city’s schools directly counters Mr. de Blasio’s. In a statement, the mayor said he viewed “each incidence as obviously troubling,” but challenged the group’s facts, saying that “this year to date, the major crime in our schools is down 14.29 percent and other crimes down 6.77 percent.”