Complaints of Violence Spike in NYC Renewal Schools


Despite targeted, expensive interventions, New York City's "renewal schools" are teeming with violence, reports Susan Edelman of the New York Post.

94 schools were recipients of millions of dollars in special assistance through Mayor Bill de Blasio's Renewal Program.

At these schools, violence has increased, according to research performed by the pro-charter school group Families for Excellent Schools. The information gathered showed that there has been an 8% increase in 11 kinds of incidents that are used to determine scores on the state's School Violence Index.

At 48 Renewal schools, the 11 types of incidents rose. The number of students injured in assaults increased from 443 to 563, and attacks that caused serious injuries climbed from 40 to 53. Also, bullying that included the presence of weapons grew from 69 to 90.

A cellphone video was taken of a 4-year-old pre-K male student at P.S. 198 in Harlem showing the boy abandoned in a stairwell. The event came after the child had been pinned against the wall by school staff, causing pain in his arms.

P.S. 194 in Harlem has been christened the "School of Horror" because of the many incidents of hateful violence that have been reported there. One teacher, Osman Couey, was alleged to have thrown a special-needs student across a hallway. During the long duration of his employment at P.S. 194, Couey was also accused of assaulting numerous children, one of whom was Erica Medina's 7-year-old son. Couey allegedly threw the young person down a stairway.

Kristina Martell's son, Cameron, was assaulted for over a year and the Department of Education would not grant him a transfer, writes Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of Families for Excellent Schools, in the New York Slant.

Some of these parents have established the Safe Schools Now campaign aimed at having Mayor Bill de Blasio address the school violence crisis. The website provides a resource for New York City public school parents with information on how to protect against violent teachers. One crucial change demanded by the parent group is that parents must be advised about abusive teachers.

The mayor is failing 1 million families who expect that their children will be safe when they enter their classrooms, writes Kittredge.

Lisa L. Colangelo, reporting for the New York Daily News, writes that over 5,500 complaints against public school staff were reported in 2015, the highest number ever recorded, according to statistics from Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon.

"Safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and we are committed to using all procedures and tools to keep school communities safe," said Devora Kaye, a spokeswoman for the city Education Department.

"There are protocols in place to aggressively and thoroughly investigate and address complaints, and we will continue to use these to serve students and families."

Erica Medina writes in the New York Post that she heard last month that Osman Couey had assaulted Ka'Veon Wilson at P.S. 194. She knew the story because Couey attacked her child as well. In November of 2013, the teacher grabbed her son, Xavier, by the ear and threw him down a flight of stairs. When the DoE interviewed Couey, the officials believed the accusations were not accurate and allowed him to return to the classroom.

Couey was reprimanded in 2004 for abusing a child and was accused of assaulting a student two more times before he attacked Xavier, but still he was allowed to continue to teach, along with the many other teachers who are still in classrooms in spite of having abused students.

Medina has joined Safe Schools Now and said the DoE:

"… needs to stop playing politics with our children's safety, and needs to tell parents what's really going on before it's too late."

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