A Brownsville mother, who claims a teacher dragged her son out of a classroom at Riverdale Avenue Community School, has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education and considers pressing charges against the teacher.
“I’m thinking about pressing charges because the teacher hasn’t been held accountable for her actions, and the school didn’t follow the proper protocol to protect my child,” said Brittany Graham, the mother of seven-year-old Kashmire.
The alleged incident occurred in October, when the second-grader was dragged out of his classroom by his teacher for not following her directions to move to a rug for story-time.
“I know kids can be frustrating and unruly, but taking it out on them physically is completely unacceptable,” said Graham, who works with special-needs children. “These kids have parents who don’t send them to school to be abused.”
After Kashmire had told his mother about the incident, she reported it to the school’s principal Meghan K. Dunn and the DOE subsequentially launched an investigation.
A co-teacher, who requested to remain unnamed, witnessed the incident and recorded a conversation with the teacher in which she seemingly admitted her mistake.
“I perhaps should not have attempted to physically remove him from the class,” she said in the recording.
The audio file was presented to the DOE, but the department determined the claims to be unsubstantiated and closed the investigation.
“This matter was unsubstantiated after a thorough investigation,” said the DOE’s Deputy Press Secretary Doug Cohen. “Riverdale Avenue Community School has a strong culture of trust amongst teachers, administrators and parents.”
In response, Graham filed a lawsuit against the DOE, claiming gross negligence and recklessness.
“I’m very upset with the DOE. I feel they have enough evidence, they know it happened, and yet, they won’t do anything,” Graham said. “I want to see the principal and the teacher held accountable. That’s why I’m also considering pressing charges against the teacher.”
She has since transferred her son to another school.
“After I reported the incident, I felt he should have been removed from the class, but the principal never did it,” said Graham. “I felt like it was up to me to get him out of that environment.”
The hardest part, she said, is that Kashmire misses his old school and the friendships he made there.
“He made friends there. He has teachers that adore him,” Graham said. “They really took a lot away from my son.”
The teacher and the principal did not respond to requests for comment. Meanwhile, the DOE has reached out to discuss a settlement, Graham said.