New York City parents expressed outrage Monday on “Fox & Friends First” after a series of escalating violent incidents among children at one middle school, saying administrators and city officials aren’t doing enough to hold students accountable.
“Children are being pepper-sprayed, children are literally being beaten over the head and being videotaped at the same time and the Department of Education (DOE) does not have an answer for this,” NYC parent Michael Duncan told co-host Todd Piro.
Duncan, who is also the founder of the Students Improvement Association, slammed one of the main middle schools in question, 75 Morton, as well the larger city school system for promoting and implementing “restorative justice.”
The program focuses on mediation rather than punishment and urges offenders to accept responsibility and make restitution with victims of their own accord.
In New York City, the DOE partnered with a group known as the Center for Court Innovation to implement the program with the goal of mitigating discrepancies in school suspension rates based on race, gender, and disability. Most schools utilize punitive discipline systems, wherein you break a rule, and you are punished.
“Restorative justice enables the assailant and does not protect the victim, so expecting students to sit down with someone and listen to why that other student feels the need to attack them and assault them is unacceptable,” said Mona Davids, a mother and member of the NYC School Safety Coalition.
Davids went on to say that a shortage of school safety agents and a hesitancy to enforce school suspensions has enabled students and caused violence to spiral “out of control” in NYC schools.
Meanwhile, a third parent, Olivia Ramos said she had requested a “safety transfer” and removed her son from 75 Morton after repeated instances of alleged physical and verbal abuse.
Ramos said her son experienced numerous forms of bullying, including verbal insults such as racist and misogynistic slurs, children punching and stomping on his feet, hitting him with a locker room door, and attempting to violently kick him in the groin. She also witnessed videos of students fighting each other on video in a Snapchat group dedicated to documenting brawls at the school.
“It was just very disturbing, it was really violent,” said Ramos.
The NYC mother said she contacted the school repeatedly and was assured that action would be taken to hold the perpetrators accountable. Ramos claimed little action has been taken.
The DOE told the New York Post on Friday they would be placing additional aides, social workers, and other personnel at 75 Morton to address student safety concerns.
That same day, Principal Valerie Leak told parents in a note that “while this is a tough moment for our community, know that we are Morton Strong and will get through this together.”