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24772: Roberts (pub) NAACP to hold public hearing on PS 34 controversy
New York Newsday
April 13, 2005
NAACP to hold public hearing on PS 34 controversy
BY ELLEN YAN
The NAACP is planning a public hearing to address allegations that an
assistant principal ordered Haitian children at PS 34 in Queens
Village to sit on the floor and eat lunch with their hands "like
"I don't want it to be something that people think they can do and
nobody investigates," said Shirley Huntley, education committee head
of the NAACP's southeast Queens branch. "Sometimes you have to do
certain things to calm people down. We don't need demonstrations
every day of the week. We want to nip it in the bud before it gets
News of the hearing came a day after dozens of parents and advocates
picketed the school over the March 16 incident. Yesterday, several
City Council members pressed Chancellor Joel Klein to handle the
"If allegations are true, this is a new low for our school system,"
said Eva Moskowitz, head of the education committee. The education
department's Office of School Investigations is handling the matter.
It is usually swamped with cases, but in the past, when controversies
cropped up, superintendents sometimes ordered transfers for educators
pending the outcome of the probe, much like the NYPD puts officers on
desk duty while probing allegations against them.
Parents at the school and Haitian advocates are furious because they
believe some temporary action should have been taken over assistant
principal Nancy Miller and principal Pauline Shakespeare. Now,
parents want both administrators fired, saying Miller tried to bribe
kids to say nothing happened by offering them sweets while
Shakespeare ignored their complaints.
Miller was transferred to the regional office yesterday at her own
Children and parents said the incident started with a lunchtime
squabble between two Haitian students, and Miller then allegedly
punished the students' bilingual class of 13 fourth- and fifth-
"In Haiti they treat you like animals and I will treat you the same
way here," they accused her of saying.
NAACP officials said the local office got at least five calls on the
issue since Tuesday, when the incident was publicized. The public
hearing will be at 7 p.m. Sunday at the NAACP office, 189-26 Linden
Blvd. in St. Albans.
"You send your kids to school to be cared for," said Marilyn Barnes,
president of the southeast Queens branch. "You don't want parents to
have to be concerned about what type of treatment they're receiving."
Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.