5th Oct 2012

GYM TEACHER BULLIED

October 2012 is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and while bullying can take many forms, a burly gym teacher in New York is now suing the Department of Education for the debilitating injuries he suffered at the hands of a six year old boy.  Pause….take a drink.  OK.   John Webster, a physical education teacher at PS 330 in Queens, had a “scuffle” with six year old, 50 pound Rodrigo Carpio last April, leaving Webster with injuries to his right knee and ankle. Webster has been unable to work since his run-in with the tiny terror and is seeking compensation for his medical expenses and damages. Webster claims the school knew about Carpio’s propensity for pint sized violence, but did nothing about it. He also alleges the boy has a history of being combative with his fellow students and assaulting teachers. Webster, a former college football player, was chaperoning Carpio and other students to the cafeteria when the boy got out of line. When he wouldn’t calm down, Webster tried to restrain him, but he fought back with kicks and bites to not only Webster, but the school principal and safety officer. The incident resulted in a call to police, but no action was taken. The boy’s parents claim he is now taking medication for a behavioral disorder, but if he had similar incidents of school violence in the past, why did the parents wait until NOW to seek medical help for their child? This is not the first time tiny students have wreaked havoc in school. In 2005, a substitute teacher in New York died when a nine year old boy struck her in the chest after refusing to do an assignment. And, in April, the story of six year old Salecia Johnson caused a firestorm when she was taken to the police station in handcuffs and charged with battery and criminal damage (all charges dropped). Schools have a responsibility to keep children safe and foster learning, but it is also up to the parents to instill discipline at home, although far too often, parents leave that job to the schools. A violent six year old will grow up into a violent adult, but according to Carpio’s school, when it urged his parents to seek medical care, they would not allow their son to be hospitalized. It may seem ridiculous for a 220 pound former football player to claim he was beaten up by a child, but given how teachers need to exercise restraint in disciplining their students, it is not that farfetched for a student to inflict damage on one unable to fight back. Teachers have a right to be safe in schools. Pay the man for his injuries, New York City Department of Education.