**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** FEBRUARY 25, 2016
PARENTS GATHER AT CITY HALL TO ANNOUNCE FOIL REQUEST WITH DEPT. OF ED TO RELEASE NAMES OF VIOLENT TEACHERS
PARENTS DEMAND ANSWERS FROM DOE FOLLOWING ARREST OF TEACHER WHO ASSAULTED SECOND GRADER AND ABUSED OTHER STUDENTS
Call for Action Follows Mayor de Blasio’s Dismissal of State Data Showing 23% Spike in Violence at NYC Public Schools
Records Could Help Parents Avoid Incidents Like Those at P.S. 194, “School of Horror” — Dept. of Ed Knew of Teacher’s Violent Tendencies but Failed to Remove Him
NEW YORK, NY — New York City parents gathered on the steps of City Hall on Thursday morning to announce that they filed a FOIL request with the Department of Education for the names of abusive teachers at city public schools following the arrest Tuesday night of Osman Couey, the Harlem teacher who threw a seven-year-old special-needs student across a hallway in December (Daily News, New York Post, NY1). Shamona Kirkland, a parent organizer for Families for Excellent Schools, filed the formal request.
The press conference comes on the heels of Mayor de Blasio’s dismissal of state data showing violence in city schools on the rise. Families for Excellent Schools released state data showing violent incidents went up by 23% during the 2014-2015 school year, contrary to Mayor de Blasio’s claims that schools are actually growing safer. FES has released a petition demanding that the de Blasio administration acknowledge this crisis and act to end it, and has aired a TV ad detailing the violence that pervades city schools and harms students of all ages.
- Families for Excellent Schools TV Ad “Tell Our Leaders: NYC Demands #SafeSchoolsNow”
- Families for Excellent Schools Report: Safety Last: New York City’s Public Schools Are More Dangerous Than Ever
- Families for Excellent Schools Petition “We Demand #SafeSchoolsNow”
Parents gathered at City Hall confirmed that Couey’s arrest speaks to a larger pattern of violence in city public schools that has profoundly harmed their children. Kristina Martell Suarez, the mother of a second-grader, detailed the years of bullying and assault her son Cameron has endured at P.S. 207 in the Bronx and spoke to her negative experiences with the Department of Education, documented in a PIX11 story that aired Tuesday evening.
“Everyday, I am afraid that my son is going to get hurt when he’s in school,” said Kristina Martell Suarez, the mother of seven-year-old Cameron. “I made several requests to the Department of Education to have my son transferred to a different school, but they denied my requests. Why won’t the Department of Education allow me to take my son out of a school where he is in danger every single day?”
Osman Couey has abused numerous other children during his tenure at P.S. 194, dubbed the “School of Horror” for its rampant violence, but the Department of Education has failed to remove him from the classroom for over a decade. Even in the wake of his arrest, Couey has still not been fired.
“Here’s what sickens me as a mother: the Department of Education knew about this man’s repeated, violent behavior for ten years, yet they allowed him to stay in the classroom, surrounded by young children,” said Shamona Kirkland, the parent who filed the FOIL request. “At a bare minimum, the Department of Education needs to release the names of every teacher who has a record of committing violent incidents against students.”
“Because the Department of Education repeatedly failed to act, at least four students have been scarred by Osman Couey’s abuse,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, Executive Director of Families for Excellent Schools. “As violent incidents rise, the Department of Education must release names of abusive teachers and keep parents informed.”