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24745: Minsky: (news) Outrage as Haitian kids have to eat "like animals" P.S. 34
Tequila Minsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Queens school disgrace
Outrage as Haitian kids have to eat 'like animals'
by Juan Gonzalez
Email: jgonzalez@ edit.nydailynews.com
NY Daily News
It's the kind of spat that flares thousands of times a day in schools
over the country.
But at Public School 34 in Queens Village, Assistant Principal Nancy
ghastly way of handling a minor scuffle between two Haitian
has sparked fury.
According to parents and students, Miller, who is white, chose to
13 Haitian pupils in the school's only fourth-grade bilingual class -
though just two were involved in the March 16 incident.
She ordered all 13 to sit on the cafeteria floor, then made them use
fingers to eat their lunch of chicken and rice, while all the other
"In Haiti, they treat you like animals, and I will treat you the same
here," several students recalled Miller saying.
Some of the punished fourth-graders were so humiliated they began to
few begged Miller for spoons to eat.
Her behavior has triggered a probe by the schools' office of special
investigations, as parents accused Miller of racial bias and demanded
that she and the
principal be fired.
One of those punished was Woosvelt Isac. His father, Sony Isac,
boy was upset that night.
"He was almost crying," Isac said yesterday. "I asked him what was
Then he told me, 'They put me sitting on the floor. They put me to eat
hands.' I couldn't believe it."
At the suggestion of a teacher, several children wrote their accounts
incident that afternoon in their bilingual class.
This is what one child wrote:
"Mrs. Miller made me and our classmates sit on the floor to eat our
She said that we are animals and we got it from our country. ... I was
when I got to my class I told my teacher about what happened. I did
what she said about my country."
Isac and other parents complained to the principal, Pauline
claim that Shakespeare, who is black, tried to cover for Miller.
They also claim school officials tried to bribe the kids with ice
deny the incident happened!
An April 1 note written by one of the children, Ronald Destine, backs
"Today after questioning my friend and I for the fourth time, the
[Mrs. Shakespeare] sent the guidance lady [Mrs. Gilbert] to get me in
classroom while I was reviewing math.
"When we got to her room, Mrs. Gilbert asked me what the school could
have us change my story.
"I answered, nothing because I want the truth to come out! At this
offered free ice cream to us so we could say something else.
"I have a big math exam coming this month, and I would like for the
to stop harassing my classmate and I. Please do something."
No one at the school was talking yesterday.
When I reached Miller by phone yesterday, she would only say, "I can't
about it, because it is under investigation."
Shakespeare did not return calls for comment. Elizabeth Bandy, the
parent coordinator, sounded more like another bureaucrat than someone
"I heard about it but I'm not at liberty to speak about it because
investigation," Bandy said.
A spokesman for Schools Chancellor Joel Klein confirmed that the
special investigations has opened a probe into allegations of corporal
punishment by Miller, noting that Education Department officials were
Word of what happened in PS34 has been the big topic on the city's many
Haitian radio programs for more than a week.
"The community is definitely outraged about this," said Dahoud Andre,
one of those programs, "Lakou Nouyòk."
Parents and Haitian community leaders plan to picket the school today.
They want it made clear that educators who abuse and intimidate
any race, don't belong in our schools.
Originally published on April 12, 2005
The Haitian Community Says:
No to Racism!
No To Discrimination!
No to the Denigration of our Children in their Own Schools!
On March 16th 2005, following an altercation between some students in
lunchroom of PS 34 in Queens Village, Mrs. Nancy Miller, the Assistant
of the school, singled out the 13 Haitian students of the school's
grade Bilingual class and forced them to sit on the floor to eat their
chicken and rice with their bare hands. When the students protested,
screamed at them in front of the all the other students in the
they treat you like animals and I will treat you the same way here."
Instead of acknowledging this cruel and inhumane treatment of our
and the entire Haitian community, the Principal of the school, Mrs.
Shakespeare, who according to a Haitian parent described her child's
"animalism," has chosen to stand with her Assistant Principal. She has
repeatedly pulling some of the 13 Haitian children out of their class
convince them that the March 16th incident never happened. According
to one of
the students, Mrs. Shakespeare has even gone as far as offering the
free ice cream if they were to "say something else."
We vow to our 13 children, who were so savagely humiliated by this
white woman who we are paying to educate them, and to all our children
that we will not allow this crime to go unpunished.
We demand no less than the firing of both, Mrs. Nancy Miller and Mrs.
Shakespeare. We don't want them transferred to another school where
simply continue to abuse other parents' children.
Join us on Tuesday, April 12th, 2005 from 2pm to 4pm
at a picket line in front of PS 34
104-12 Springfield Blvd. in Queens Village, NY
Support us by calling to express your outrage and echo our demand:
Local Instructional Superintendent Janet Won at 718-281-3407
Regional Superintendent Judith Chin at 718-281-3407
Chancellor Joel Klein at 212-374-0200
Call EVERYONE to spread the word and fax this sheet to all Press
For more Information: Call 718-464-6068
or call Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees at 718 735-4660