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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Students Attack Teachers and Staff - NY POST

The proof that the New York City public school system is in disarray can be seen in the statistics of harm done to the people who work or attend schools in the City. Student assaults are a symptom of bad management, plain and simple.

A culture of "hands off the little flowers" (children) no matter what they do, screams to kids, "You can do whatever you want". This well-known but unwritten "rule" harms everyone.

Especially the victims of bullies. A bully cannot exist in a zero-tolerance environment that is cognizant of the need to have accurate facts about circumstances before making conclusions. The NYC Department of Education does not have this embedded in policy at any District or school level, nor are there any "real" investigators ("real" investigators = people are professionally trained to look into the circumstances of events of bullying). It's a free-for-all in our city's schools where the strongest, most politically connected person wins the approval.

With accountability and consequences missing, bullies succeed. And they get people to follow them. This is "mobbing".

This type of mobbing, in my opinion, is a criminal operation created and pursued irrationally - because these are kids we are discussing.

From Wikipedia:
"In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term "crime" does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition, though statutory definitions have been provided for certain purposes. The most popular view is that crime is a category created by law; in other words, something is a crime if declared as such by the relevant and applicable law. One proposed definition is that a crime or offence (or criminal offence) is an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society or the state ("a public wrong"). Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.

With the meeting of more than two criminal minds, only malicious harmful consequences can occur. And such a group is almost always successful. No planning or strategies exist to re-direct the extremely malicious focus of a team of criminal minds.

This has to change.

Betsy Combier 

Students attacked, threatened thousands of school employees last year

City school kids aren’t just hitting the books, they’re smacking their teachers.
More than 10,000 city school employees, from custodians to principals, and about half of them teachers, were assaulted or threatened by students last school year, The Post has learned.
A total of 10,825 staffers reported incidents in 2016-17, a 4.5 percent increase from the 10,357 ­embattled educators in 2015-16, and 11.8 percent more than the 9,686 in 2014-15, data show.
The number of incidents — including “altercations,” “physically aggressive behavior” and “inflicting serious injury” — also spiked. Schools reported 9,529 cases in 2016-17, up 3.5 percent from 2015-16 (9,211) and 10 percent from 2014-15 (8,677). Some cases involved multiple victims.
And from 2015 to 2017, a staggering 8,253 school employees, including 3,792 teachers, suffered injuries in those incidents.
Gregory Floyd

“The mayor’s narrative is that the schools are safer, crime is down. These stats show crime is not down. Assaults are high, threats are high,” said school-agent union leader Gregory Floyd.
“I’ve said from the beginning of the de Blasio administration, the schools are out of control.”
PS 78 in Queens topped the list with 80 victims of violence or threats in 2014-15; PS 3 on Staten Island held the top spot with 100 victims in 2015-16; and the Island’s PS 60 recorded a leading 179 victims in 2016-17.
The city Department of Education took 18 months to comply with The Post’s Freedom of Information Law request for the disturbing data.
The DOE refused to divulge details on the violence, citing student privacy, but several incidents have made the news:
  • A Bronx special-needs high-school student stabbed his teacher with a No. 2 pencil in October 2015. Devon Smalls, 17, attacked his 44-year-old teacher, Juliet Omenukwa, inside the Jeffrey M. Rapport School for Career Development, police said.Smalls, a special-needs student suspended three days earlier, allegedly punched the shell-shocked instructor and jabbed her multiple times in the ribs with the freshly-sharpened point, according to witnesses and reports. The teen pleaded guilty to harassment, and the charges were dropped on condition he complete community service, the Bronx DA’s office said.
  • In May 2016, a veteran English teacher at troubled Flushing HS landed in hot water for trying to stop a student who threatened to beat her with a heavy cast on his arm. Eileen Ghastin was so terrified when the teen charged at her that she blurted in self-defense, “If you hit me, I’ll kill you.” The May 17 confrontation occurred at a long-troubled school in de Blasio’s $600 million “Renewal” program. But instead of expelling the teen, the DOE suspended Ghastin for four weeks, with a hearing officer saying she should have followed Michelle Obama’s motto, “When they go low, we go high.” Ghastin is appealing.
  • In October 2016, a student at Manhattan Early College School for Advertising pummeled his principal who had asked him to remove his headphones. “He grabbed my Beats and was very aggressive so I lost control,” 18-year-old Luis Penzo confessed, court papers say. Matthew Tossman, 36, suffered two black eyes and a laceration that needed seven stitches. In September, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge granted Penzo youthful-offender status and sentenced him to a conditional discharge: if he stays out of trouble for three years, he’ll avoid prison and a criminal record.
Some teachers believe the number of assaults and threats is much higher, and that many incidents do not get recorded on the DOE’s Online Occurrence Reporting System.
Some administrators don’t want the school to look bad, or they blame the teachers for “poor classroom management.”
“If you complain, you’re a target,” a teacher said.
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said the union contract mandates a safety plan in every school, and each site should offer counseling, training and conflict resolution.
“One of our frustrations with the Department of Education is that it fails to ensure that this happens in every school,” he said.
The DOE data does not include assaults on school safety agents, who are NYPD employees. The unarmed guards suffer injuries while breaking up fights or trying to restrain kids — some have been punched or stabbed, said union leader Floyd.
“If they assault adults, what would they do to other students?” Floyd asked. “Children are being bullied and threatened too.”
Last September, a bullied teen at Urban Academy School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx whipped out a folding knife and stabbed two classmates, one fatally. There were 18 incidents at the school in recent years, five during 2014-15, two in 2015-16 and 11 in 2016-17. The school is closing this year.
“We take each incident seriously and have detailed protocols in place to ensure they are reported, investigated and addressed,” said a DOE spokesman.

The Partnership of Bully Power and Media Can Convict a Teacher at 3020-a

Bullies have the right of way in New York City, it seems to me after looking into and working on more than 60 3020-a cases of corporal punishment or verbal abuse.

Eileen Ghastin
The case of Eileen Ghastin comes to mind. I've written about her in a previous post (I and Attorney Jonathan Behrins are working on her Article 75 Appeal) after a student threatened Eileen in her classroom with beating her up with the cast on his arm, and he knew how to box, he told her. She was terrified, so she believed that there was only one way to stop him, and that was to say something that would make him re-consider. here is part of the record testimony:

"The teen then “went berserk,” Ghastin said. “He jumped out of his chair, rushed toward me and raised his arm,” encased in a hard cast from elbow to hand.
“I’m going to beat the s–t out of you,” Ghastin quoted him as yelling. “I’m a boxer, so I can ­really f–k you up. "I am really going to do a lot of damage."

Eileen was frozen with fear that she was really going to be hurt. And then, she said, " I thought to myself, I have to say something quickly or else I am going to die. --you know. So, I realized, you know, that he is in a very--a blind rage. If I say something strong enough to him, he will stop.
I said, "If you beat me, I will kill you." 

This statement stopped him."

However the Arbitrator, Richard Williams concluded that Eileen's words embarrassed the student and created a sense of terror in the student and all the other students in the class, and gave her 4 weeks suspension without pay. The lawyer on this case defending Ms. Ghastin was NYSUT Attorney Jennifer Hogan.

But in the record there is testimony that the Student, Student A, had read the article published in the New York Post on May 29, 2016:

My student threatened to beat me — and I’m the one in trouble

and Arbitrator Williams was convinced that reading the article on May 29 2016 was enough for him to conclude he must punish Ms. Ghastin for embarrassing the student.

Huh? Read the Williams' support for entering the POST article at the hearing (Kereen Evans-McKay was the Department attorney making the argument):

"21 MS. HOGAN: …I think
22 there's a distinction between the question of
23 how did you feel as a result of statements being
24 made to you in the classroom versus how did you
25 feel about reading about an allegation contained

in a newspaper. And so I understand your point
3 about the Chancellor's Regulations deriving from
4 the allegations, but here it appears to me that
5 the Department's trying to argue that uncharged
6 conduct, which is notoriety, can be used in
7 making a determination as to whether or not
8 there was a Chancellor's Regulation violation.

MS. HOGAN: ...Here
21 counsel is taking it a step further and asking
22 that question about how the witness felt as a
23 result of reading the newspaper article.

24 THE HEARING OFFICER: But that's a
25 consequence
THE HEARING OFFICER: That question is
6 being answered because in my mind, should I find
7 a violation of the Chancellor's Reg., the impact
8 of the incident and the natural flowing
9 consequences that the student experienced and
10 the impact on that student's future really going
11 forward and interacting with teachers, is
12 relevant in the determination.

MS. EVANS-MCKAY: Okay. So at the end
5 of the day, the Department has to prove for
6 verbal abuse which includes how the verbal abuse
7 by the teacher made the student/students feel.
8 If there is, if there was a follow up to the
9 incident, an incident, there's a continuation of
10 the incident that was now publicized that also
11 bleeds into how the student may have felt by the
12 incident, both the incident that happened inside
13 the classroom and now something that's now been
14 publicized about the incident. So I'd like to

15 be able to ask the student about his feelings
16 about what happened in the classroom and
17 obviously we can only get how this affects him
18 educationally if we get his feelings about what
19 happened and what he read. I think it,
20 everything has to be considered in its totality"

(Transcript, pp. 469-471, 2-3-17)

and then shockingly, Williams tried to get some emotional damages to penalize the Respondent, Eileen Ghastin:

"THE HEARING OFFICER: What ways have 5 you been affected?
6 WITNESS: Well I haven't been affected
7 at all physically. Honestly, I just thought it
8 was a stupid thing to still bring up. I'm not
9 holding a grudge. What was said was said, and
10 it was last year. I think it should have been
11 dropped last year. 

19 A. By the time I saw The Post, I was confused
20 on how she said the story had gone or what had
21 happened. But then just a week after that, I was
22 done. I just let it go." (transcript, pp. 472-473)

4 your friends saying stuff about it change your
5 mind about how it impacted you?
6 WITNESS: No. Every time they brought
7 it up, I said, "Yeah. That was me that got the
8 teacher fired." But I just leave it as that."  (transcript, p. 475)

The arbitrator agreed with the Department that the incident and the write-up in the POST must have embarrassed the Student, and gave Ms. Ghastin the penalty of 4-weeks’ suspension without pay, altering her unblemished career forever.

That Williams used the NY POST to give a penalty of 4-weeks' suspension is absurd, in my opinion. Ms. Ghastin has appealed this decision.

Betsy Combier