A substitute teacher at the David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, MS/HS 141 is being investigated after a parent alleged that the sub grabbed her son by his hooded sweatshirt, choked him and “said some inappropriate things,” according to Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg.
The sub, who has worked for the DOE for about 30 years, has no history of such complaints, according to RKA Principal Lori O’Mara, who is conducting the investigation.
“This teacher has no allegations like this in the past. I think it would be different if it was a repeat kind of thing,” Ms. O’Mara said in a phone interview.
Ms. Feinberg said the incident in question took place at around 2:30 p.m. on May 16, at the end of math class, but would not identify the student or teacher involved.
Ms. O’Mara said she called the parent’s complaint in to the DOE and officials asked her to conduct her own investigation. Ms. O’Mara met with the student the morning after the incident, approximately 15 hours later, and said she didn’t see any signs of injury or bruising. In addition to interviewing the student, Ms. O’Mara said she must record witness statements, present them to the substitute teacher, get his response and, if necessary, interview additional witnesses identified by the sub.
“Disciplinary action is pending the outcome of the investigation,” Ms. Feinberg wrote in an e-mail.
Although Ms. O’Mara said allegations against RKA administrators are rare, a similar situation occurred in April, when a 15-year-old student’s mother told The Press a dean pushed her son.
At the time, the DOE said the matter was not being investigated. However, Ms. O’Mara said she investigated the incident and concluded that the dean was innocent. The student, who was not supposed to be in school at the time of in incident due to a suspension, was suspended again for his actions.
In a phone interview in April, the student said he was not hurt and admitted to pushing the dean back because he was upset.
“I was angry. It’s hard to explain. I didn’t know what to do but it was like a natural reflex for me to push back,” he said.
The student’s mother said the dean’s defense was that he simply brushed her son with his shoulder. She said she was aghast that the dean lashed out violently at her child.
“This is, like, unheard of. I’m very, very upset. I can’t believe this teacher actually put his hands on my child,” the mother, who did not wish to be identified, said, adding, “The teacher could have also walked away. That’s what I would have done.”