At P.S. 111 in Long Island City—a public school in Queens, New York with a track record for underperforming and violence—when one of the saddest examples of teacher irresponsibility occurred, it was a 7-year-old girl who suffered.
Teachers at the troubled school left four eight-graders in charge of four first-graders while the adults took a 30-minute bathroom break.
The results were not good. The assigned “tutors” attempted to get Taniya Jules, 7, to fight a 6-year-old boy. When the girl refused, she was dragged by the hair, feet and shirt around a hallway by the older girls, according to Taniya’s mother, Latoya Gore, who spoke to the New York Daily News.
Almost immediately, a cover up commenced. The school nurse told the assaulted child’s mother that her child had run and hit her head on a table. The child said it was a lie, and the surveillance video proved she was telling the truth.
The four teachers involved and the four students have been kicked out of the school.
“Nothing is more important than our students’ safety and we have taken swift action and removed the adults who were responsible for these children,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said Thursday. “We pledge to these families and children that we will hold accountable anyone who put children in harm’s way.”
The Daily News took Fariña and New York mayor Bill de Blasio to task in an editorial for not paying enough attention to schools like P.S. 111, which has struggled in performance evaluations.
In fact, this school consistently has been listed as dangerous, with 23 assaults and 37 altercations this year. Meanwhile, just 8 percent of third- through eighth-graders passed English and math exams. Just 13 percent of the eighth graders passed last year’s state English and math exams.
Principal Dionne Jaggon, who earns $129,670 a year, remains in charge of the poor-performing and violence-wracked school. Jaggon, who has been accused by several parents of ignoring the chaos in the classrooms, has not spoken publicly about this incident.
In 2012, the school was deemed “proficient” on every count. Adding in test scores, it received a C on its last progress school report card by the Bloomberg administration’s grading system.
According to The News, under the new de Blasio-Fariña grading system, the school scored “approaching target” on student progress and achievement—a measure so meaningless as to deny parents true information.