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24755: Esser: (news) Parents Protest Incident Involving Haitian Pupils
From: D. Esser <email@example.com>
The New York Times
April 13, 2005
Parents Protest Incident Involving Haitian Pupils
By SUSAN SAULNY
A group of Haitian parents and their supporters protested outside a
public school in Queens yesterday, asserting that an assistant
principal punished more than a dozen Haitian children by calling them
animals and making them sit on the floor to eat their lunch without
The parents say that after a pushing incident in the cafeteria, an
assistant principal singled out about 13 children on a Wednesday in
March and told them: "I know where you come from. This is the way you
Nancy Miller, the assistant principal at Public School 34 on
Springfield Boulevard in Queens Village, denied the allegations
through a spokesman for the city's Department of Education, Keith
Mr. Kalb said that school officials "take these allegations very
seriously" and that Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein has opened an
investigation. He would offer no further comment.
The parents said they protested because they contacted the school and
city education officials almost a month ago and have not had a
response. They have asked for Ms. Miller's removal, and for
disciplinary action against the principal, Pauline Shakespeare. Mr.
Kalb said last night that Ms. Miller had asked for reassignment
pending the outcome of the investigation.
The parents and their advocates say the incident began at lunchtime
on March 16 when one fourth grader in line for lunch pushed another,
who started to cry. When Ms. Miller noticed, they say, she pointed to
the Haitian students and ordered them to sit on the floor and eat
with their hands as punishment.
The incident was reported yesterday in Newsday and The Daily News.
Mikhael Benyisrael, an artist from Haiti whose daughter attended P.S.
34, said: "This is a disaster. You have to imagine a kid at 10 years
old. This is the age a child builds up a personality. This is going
to affect them for the rest of their lives. It will lower their
Marcelle Starck, whose son, a fifth grader, was not among the
punished students, said: "We need an answer. We are not animals. She
called them animals, but she is worse than an animal."
Frustrated with the lack of response from school officials, the
parents contacted Dr. Henry Frank, the executive director of the
Haitian Centers Council, a consortium of advocacy groups based in
Brooklyn. About three weeks ago, Dr. Frank, a leading voice of the
Haitian community nationally, wrote letters to Mr. Klein and the
regional superintendent on the parents' behalf. He said he never got
It was "not only an insult to those kids, but it is an insult to the
Haitian community at large and an insult to Haiti," Dr. Frank said.
Anne Farmer contributed reporting for this article.
Copyright © 2005 The New York Times Company