New York City Department of Education Report on the PS 34 issue

FROM: Robert T. Small, Confidential Investigator

SUBJECT: Nancy Miller Assistant Principal, PS 34Q, R.03
SS # (REDACTED) File # (REDACTED)

Pauline Shakespeare Principal, PS 34Q, R.03
SS # (REDACTED) File # (REDACTED)

OSI #05-2667
____________ ORIGIN OF COMPLAINT


On March 28, 2005, at 8:25 PM, an e-mail was received by the Chancellor. The e-mail's writer said that he or she was a parent of a child in Ms. Theodore's class at PS 34, but the writer of the email did not sign his or her name. The email alleged that Ms. Miller, Assistant Principal, PS 34Q, R.03, made an entire class sit on the floor and eat with their bare hands. This e-mail also stated that when students asked permission to get eating utensils they were refused and Ms. Miller told them "You are used to being treated like animals in your country; I'm treating you like animals." There was no allegation about any behavior by the school's principal, Ms. Shakespeare. On March 29, 2005, the Chancellor forwarded the e-mail to the Department's General Counsel, who forwarded it to Senior Regional Counsel Thomas Fox and Regional Superintendent Judith Chin. Regional Counsel Fox informed the General Counsel that the Office of Special Investigations would be notified.

On March 29, 2005, Senior Regional Counsel Thomas Fox notified the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) about the e-mail. Mr. Fox stated that he would assist the principal, Ms. Shakespeare, in the investigation of the allegations, and OSI agreed to oversee the investigation. Principal Shakespeare filed an on-line report of the allegations with OSI on the same day. On March 30, 2005, OSI sent an e-mail to Principal Shakespeare confirming the referral. Subsequently, Ms. Shakespeare and Mr. Fox conducted interviews of the students involved.

On April 1, 2005, the Office of the Special Commissioner for Investigation (SCI) also received allegations that on March 16, 2005, Ms. Miller had forced a bilingual class at PS 34Q to sit on the cafeteria floor and eat their lunch with their hands, that she had said to the students that she had to treat them like animals, and that it was the same way they are treated in their country. It was also alleged that Ms. Shakespeare had failed to take any actions against Ms. Miller. SCI referred these allegations to OSI. On the same day, Ms. Shakespeare also contacted SCI to report an allegation that on March 23 Ms. Theodore had learned of the March 16 incident but had failed to report it. SCI also referred this allegation to OSI.

Also on April 1, 2005, the Chancellor's Office of Strategic Response received another e-mail from a parent of one of the children in Ms. Theodore's class, alleging that, according to his son, on March 16 Ms. Miller had ordered the children to eat lunch on the floor while other students sat at tables and forced them to eat chicken and rice with their hands. The e-mail also alleged that Ms. Miller told the children that she was treating them like animals because that is the way they used to be treated in their country. This e-mail was referred to OSI on April 1.

On April 4, 2005, the Department's General Counsel directed OSI to conduct the entire investigation itself. On that date, OSI called back the investigation from the principal, and OSI has investigated the matter itself. Ms. Shakespeare was not initially a subject of the investigation. At that time, OSI was unaware of any allegation that Ms. Shakespeare had known about the incident prior to March 29, and she had reported the allegation to OSI that day. Ms. Shakespeare became a subject of the investigation, however, following interviews with Ms. Theodore and Ms. Vertus, who alleged that Ms. Shakespeare had been informed of allegations against Ms. Miller on March 23 but had not reported them.

BACKGROUND

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RESULTS OF THE INVESTIGATION

As detailed below, this investigator interviewed twelve student witnesses and fifteen adult witnesses. Most of the witnesses were interviewed multiple times. This investigator also visited the school and examined the gymnasium area, and reviewed written statements obtained from the student witnesses before they were
interviewed by this investigator.

Interview of Senior Regional Counsel Thomas Fox

This investigator interviewed Mr. Thomas Fox, Senior Regional Counsel for R.03, who stated that an e-mail was received at the Chancellor's Office alleging that Ms. Miller, Assistant Principal, PS 34Q, made a derogatory statement regarding the ethnicity of Haitian students at PS 34Q. Mr. Fox stated that the letter also alleged that Ms. Miller made the students sit on the floor and eat their lunch with their hands. Mr. Fox stated that since he was present at PS 34Q, he could assist the Principal in investigating the allegation. Mr. Fox stated that he contacted the Office of Special Investigations and stated that Ms. Shakespeare, Principal, would conduct the investigation with his assistance. Mr. Fox stated that he assisted Ms. Shakespeare in conducting four interviews of two adult staff members and two students of PS 34Q. Mr. Fox stated that besides alleging that Ms. Miller made these students sit on the floor and eat their lunch with their hands, the students were also alleging that Ms. Miller told the students that since you act like animals in your country, you'll be treated like animals here.

Visit to PS 34 Gymnasium and Cafeteria

This investigator visited PS 34 and observed the gymnasium and cafeteria areas. A diagram of those areas is attached to this report. The gymnasium is a basketball court, which, as shown in the diagram, is used in two parts. Left of the center line is a cafeteria area (which the school uses as an additional cafeteria space). This cafeteria portion of the gymnasium has tables and benches where children can eat lunch. Right of the center line is a multi-purpose area, with some benches along the walls and an otherwise open space with an uncovered wooden floor. There is a television on the wall of this multi-purpose area. [1]

Interview of Principal Shakespeare

This investigator interviewed Ms. Shakespeare, Principal, who stated that on March 29, 2005, Mr. Thomas Fox, Attorney, Region 3, came to PS 34Q and informed her that an e-mail was sent to the Chancellor's Office alleging that Ms. Miller, Assistant Principal, made students eat their lunch while sitting on the floor. Ms. Shakespeare stated that Mr. Fox also informed her that the letter contained allegations that Ms. Miller made derogatory statements regarding students' Haitian background. Ms. Shakespeare stated that she reported the allegation based on the e-mail to the Chancellor's Office. Ms. Shakespeare stated that she interviewed students and adults.

Ms. Shakespeare stated that during her initial investigation, she discovered that Ms. Theodore, Teacher, had taken statements from students two (2) weeks prior to Ms. Shakespeare's knowledge of the allegation and did not report the incident to Ms. Shakespeare. Ms. Shakespeare stated that she reported to SCI that Ms. Theodore had not reported the allegation. Ms. Shakespeare stated that after making this report to SCI, OSI notified her to stop her investigation because the investigation would now be conducted by the Office of Special Investigations. When asked whether she had received any complaints, either written or verbal, from parents of the students in Ms. Theodore's class, Ms. Shakespeare replied that she had not received any. She stated, however, that on April 1, 2005, the father of Student D entered her office and reported that on Tuesday, March 29, 2005, Ms. Miller offered his son, Student D, ice cream, to change his statement. Ms. Shakespeare stated that Ms. Miller did not know of the allegation until after the lunch periods on March 29, 2005. Ms. Shakespeare stated that she interviewed Student D in the presence of Ms. Divivier, Paraprofessional, who translated because the student speaks Creole. Student D stated that he thought Ms. Miller offered him the ice cream to change his statement. Ms. Shakespeare stated that Student D also informed her that Student A overheard Ms. Miller's offer. Ms. Shakespeare stated that she interviewed Student A who stated that he did not hear Ms. Miller offer Student D ice cream. Student A stated that Student D told him that Ms. Miller offered him ice cream. Ms. Shakespeare stated that she concluded that the allegation made against Ms. Miller regarding offering ice cream to a student to change his statement was unsubstantiated.

This investigator interviewed Students A through L in the presence of Ms. Shakespeare, Principal.[2] Students A through L are all students in Ms. Theodore's class, which is a bilingual English-Creole class. As detailed below, the students had previously given written statements to Ms. Theodore on March 23 and 24 regarding the March 16 incident (see interview of Ms. Theodore, below). According to Ms. Theodore, she asked the students to write these statements on March 23, although some of the students turned them in to her the next day. All of these statements, however, are dated March 16. These written statements will be referred to as the "March 23 statements." During her initial investigation, Ms. Shakespeare also took written statements from the students, which she provided to this investigator. These statements, which are generally briefer and less detailed than the March 23 statements or the oral interviews discussed below, will be referred to as the "statements to Principal Shakespeare."

Student A

Student A, Male, 13 years of age, 5th Grade, wrote in his March 23 statement that during his lunch period, Ms. Miller, Assistant Principal, "made us sit on the floor to eat our lunch. She said that 'we are animals and we got that from that from our country.' We also ate rice and chicken with our hands." He wrote that he was "very hurt" by Ms. Miller's statement.

In his written statement to Principal Shakespeare, Student A wrote that "the AP maid us sit on the floor at the lunch room, She took us from on room to the next because two students were fighting. She kept going back and forth. Nothing happened after that."

In an interview with this investigator and Ms. Shakespeare that was conducted in English, Student A stated that on March 16, 2005, Ms. Miller, Assistant Principal, made the students sit on the floor and eat their lunch, which consisted of chicken and rice, with their hands. Student A also stated that Ms. Miller made derogatory statements calling the students "animals" and that they got that way being from their country. Student A stated that he was hurt by Ms. Miller's statement. Student A was asked why he only mentioned to Ms. Shakespeare that Ms. Miller made the students sit on the floor during the initial investigation. Student A said that he did not feel comfortable telling Ms. Shakespeare the other allegations.

Student B

Student B, Female, 11 years of age, 4th Grade, wrote in her March 23 statement that Ms. Miller "made us sit on the floor in front of all the other kids in the lunch room and made us eat without a spoon. I did not eat because I was embarrassed. She made us look gready and she was yelling at us too! Animals ..!"

In her written statement to Principal Shakespeare, Student B wrote that after a friend of hers told Ms. Miller that another student had pushed her (Student B), "Mrs. Miller told us to take our lunch and line up then she put each of us and a spot by our self to eat but I did not eat."

In an interview with this investigator and Ms. Shakespeare conducted in English Student B stated that Ms. Miller lined up the whole class and brought them from the cafeteria to the gymnasium. Student B stated that Ms. Miller had the students sit on the floor. Student B stated that Ms. Miller began yelling at them that they were behaving like "animals". Student B also stated that Ms. Miller made the students eat their lunch without a spoon. Student B was asked if Ms. Miller made any derogatory statements regarding Haiti, and Student B replied "No." Student B also stated that while Ms. Miller was yelling, Student A stood up to get a spoon and Ms. Miller told Student A to sit back down.

Student C

Student C, Male, 9 years of age, 4th Grade, wrote in his March 23 statement that Ms. Miller, "made us sit on the floor in the gym to eat and called us animals."

In his written statement to Principal Shakespeare, Student C wrote that "Mrs. Miller put me in the floor and make me eat with my hand."

In an interview with this investigator, Ms. Shakespeare and Ms. Blackman, a School Secretary, who translated in Creole, Student C stated that Ms. Miller made the students sit on the floor, in the gym, to eat their lunch. Student C also stated that Ms. Miller called the students "animals". Student C also stated that he had asked Ms. Miller's permission to get a fork and was told to sit back down by Ms. Miller.

Student D

Student D, Male, 10 years of age, 5th Grade, in his March 23 statement, wrote that "Mrs. Miller called us animall. I felt humiliated she made us sit on the floor and eat with our hands that day we had to eat rice and chicken."

Student D's written statement to Principal Shakespeare was written by Rolande Duvivier, Paraprofessional, who translated the interview by Ms. Shakespeare in Creole. According to what Rolande Duvivier wrote, Student D said that Ms. Miller said that "we are animals. That's how our country is." Student D also said that he did not understand what Ms. Miller said and asked Student A what Ms. Miller said.

In an interview with this investigator and Ms. Shakespeare, conducted in English, Student D stated that his brother, Student C, had a fight with Student B. Student D stated that Ms. Miller became angry and took the students into the gym and made them sit on the floor. Student D stated that Ms. Miller called the students "animals" and made the students eat their lunch, which consisted of chicken and rice, with their hands. Student D stated that while Ms. Miller was yelling at them, he asked his friend, Student A, what Ms. Miller was saying. Student D stated that Student A said that Ms. Miller was calling them "animals." Student D also stated that Ms. Miller said that in Haiti, that is how their mothers treat them and that is what they want.

Student E

Student E, Male, 9 years of age, 4th Grade, stated that he was not present in school on the day of occurrence.

Student F

Student F, Male, 9 years of age, 4th Grade, wrote in his March 23 statement that "I was upset because Mrs. Miller called us animals and made them us sit on the floor and eat with our hands."[3]

In an interview with this investigator, Ms. Shakespeare and Ms. Sainvil, Teacher, who translated in Creole, Student F stated that he was upset because Ms. Miller called the students "animals" and made them sit on the floor and eat their lunches with their hands. Student F stated that he had a fork to eat his lunch. Student F was asked if Ms. Miller told any of the students that they could not use their fork or spoon to eat. Student F said, "No." Student F stated that he ate with his fork, but other students who did not have a fork or spoon had to eat with their hands. Student F was asked if Ms. Miller made any derogatory statements about Haiti. Student F said, "No."

Student G

Student G, Female, 10 years of age, 4th Grade, wrote in her March 23 statement that "On Wednesday, March 16 we went to lunch. Ms. Miller made us sit on the floor in the gym to eat with out a spoon. We asked can we get a spoon she said no. I ate with my hands. I was so embarrassed because all the other classes were looking at us."

In her written statement to Ms. Shakespeare, Student G wrote that "Ms. Miller make us sit in the gym and eat with our hand."

In an interview with this investigator and Ms. Shakespeare conducted in English, Student G stated that Ms. Miller made the students sit on the floor, in the gym, and eat their lunch without a spoon. Student G stated that students asked Ms. Miller if they could get a spoon and she refused. Student G said that she was humiliated because she had to eat her lunch with her hands. Student G also stated that Ms. Miller called the students "animals".

Student H

Student H, Female, 9 years of age, 4th Grade, wrote in her March 23 statement that "Mrs. Miller made us sit on the floor and eat with our hands. People were looking at us. We were embarrassed. There was a girl laughing."

In her written statement to Ms. Shakespeare, Student H wrote that "Mrs. Miller separated us. At the cafiteria."

In an interview with this investigator and Ms. Shakespeare conducted in English, Student H stated that she was embarrassed because Mrs. Miller made the students sit on the floor and eat their lunch with their hands. Student H stated that she got her lunch, but before she could get her fork or spoon, she was taken into the gym along with the other students and made to sit on the floor. Student H stated that because she did not have a fork or spoon, she ate her lunch with her hands. Student H was asked if any of the students asked Ms. Miller if they could get a fork or spoon. Student H said, "No." Everyone was too afraid, she said.

Student I

Student I, Male, 9 years of age, 4th Grade, wrote in his March 23 statement that "On march 16 at the lunchroom in front of everybody the Assistant Principal (Mrs. Miller) made us sit on the lunchroom gym floor and she made us eat with our hands in front of Mrs. Marks' class. I felt humiliated."

In his written statement to Principal Shakespeare, Student I wrote that "On march 16, misses miller made us sit on the floor sepretly and she made us eat with our hands and [another student] saw and I felt humileyated."

In an interview with this investigator and Ms. Shakespeare which was conducted in English, Student I stated that Ms. Miller made the students sit on the gym floor and eat their lunch with their hands. Student I stated that Ms. Miller said that Haitians are "stupid" and "bad." Student I was asked why he did not mention this allegation in any of his previous statements. Student I shrugged his shoulders. Student I also stated that Student A stood up to get a spoon and was told to sit back down by Ms. Miller.

Student J

Student J, Female, 9 years of age, 4th Grade, wrote in her March 23 statement that "one day the students were being bad so Miss Miller made us sit in the floor. When the students were trying to go get a spoon she said No! And she said we are animals . . . I was so embarrassed because I saw people sitting at their table to eat but we were sitting on the floor eating with our hands."

In her written statement to Principal Shakespeare, Student J wrote, "There was a girl named [Student B] was being bad so she just took us and made us sit in the floor. When we was we was going to get a spoon she said No! And she said we act like animals."

In an interview with this investigator and Ms. Shakespeare which was conducted in English, Student J stated that Ms. Miler made the students sit on the gym floor and eat their lunches with their hands. Student J stated that some of the students attempted to get a spoon but were told "No" by Ms. Miller. Student J stated that Student I did not eat his chicken because he did not have eating utensils. Student J also stated that Ms. Miller called the students "animals". Student J stated that she did not sit on the gym floor but sat on one of the benches.

Student K

Student K, Male, 10 years of age, 4th Grade, wrote in his March 23 statement that Ms. Miller "made us sit on the floor and eat with our hands. She called us animals in front of everybody."

Ms. Shakespeare provided a statement written by Ms. Gilbert, Guidance Counselor, who was present when Ms. Shakespeare spoke to Student K. Ms. Gilbert wrote that Student K said that one student punched another, that Ms. Miller then told some of the children to sit on the benches, and that kids in Student K's class sat on the floor. Ms. Gilbert also wrote that Student K said he did not understand what Ms. Miller said.

In an interview with this investigator, Ms. Shakespeare and Ms. Divivier, Paraprofessional (who was going to be utilized as a translator if needed, although she did not have to translate because the interview was conducted in English), Student K stated that Ms. Miller made the students sit on the gym floor and eat their lunches with their hands. Student K stated that he had a spoon to eat his lunch. Student K was asked if Ms. Miller told any of the students that they had to eat their lunch with their hands. Student K said, "No." Student K was asked if any of the students asked Ms. Miller for permission to get a fork or spoon. Student K said, "No."

Student L

Student L, Male, 10 years of age, 5th Grade, wrote in his statement that Ms. Miller "made us sit on the floor and made us eat with our hands during lunchtime. She also said 'You are animals and that's the way they treat you in your country . . . so I am treating you like animals. I felt offended."

In his written statement to Principal Shakespeare, Student L wrote, "First my friends was fighting then my other friend told Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Miller brought us into the gym. She made us sit on the floor in front of all the classes. And she also said that that how behave in Haiti like animals she going to treat us like animals."

In an interview with this investigator and Ms. Shakespeare, conducted in English, Student L stated that Ms. Miller made the students sit on the gym floor and eat their lunches with their hands. Student L stated that Ms. Miller made derogatory statements calling the students "animals" and saying that is how they are treated in their country, and that is how I am going to treat you. Student L stated that he attempted to get a fork and spoon and was told to sit back down by Ms. Miller.

Interview with Paraprofessional Divivier

This investigator interviewed Ms. Divivier, Paraprofessional, who stated that she translated when Student D was interviewed by Ms. Shakespeare, Principal. Ms. Divivier stated that Student D told her that he did not understand what Ms. Miller was saying to the class. Student D stated that he asked his friend, Student A, what Ms. Miller said. Ms. Divivier stated that Student D said that Student A told him that Ms. Miller called them "animals" and said that's how their country is.

Interview with Guidance Counselor Gilbert

This investigator interviewed Ms. Gilbert, Guidance Counselor, who stated that she was present during three (3) or four (4) of the interviews conducted by Ms. Shakespeare, Principal. Ms. Gilbert stated that the students did make allegations, but indicated that because of the language barrier she did not credit the students' allegations. Ms. Gilbert stated that she did write a statement for Student K, who does not speak English, while being interviewed by Ms. Shakespeare. Ms. Gilbert was asked if Student A ever informed her that Ms. Miller made derogatory statements. Ms. Gilbert said, "Never."

Interview with Assistant Cook Smith and School Lunch Helpers Hall, Williams, Mangal and Parasram

This investigator interviewed Mr. Smith, Assistant Cook, who stated that he had no knowledge regarding the allegation.

This investigator interviewed Mr. Hall, Ms. Williams, Ms. Mangal and Ms. Parasram, School Lunch Helpers, all of whom stated that they had no knowledge regarding the allegations

Interview with Paraprofessional House

This investigator interviewed Mr. House, Paraprofessional, who had previously given a written statement to Ms. Shakespeare. In his written statement, he wrote that he was on lunch duty in the gym. Mr. House wrote that nothing unusual happened that day.

In an interview with this investigator and Ms. Shakespeare, Mr. House stated that he was on lunch duty in the lower gym during the second and third lunch periods. Mr. House stated that he never heard Ms. Miller make a derogatory statement regarding any student's native country. Mr. House stated that if he had heard anyone making such a remark he would have reported the incident immediately.

Interview with School Aide Robinson

This investigator interviewed Ms. Robinson, School Aide, who had previously given a written statement to Ms. Shakespeare. In her statement, Ms. Robinson wrote that on March 16, 2005, Ms. Theodore's class was misbehaving in the cafeteria. Ms. Robinson stated that Ms. Miller escorted the students into the lower gym. Ms. Robinson wrote that some of the students sat on the benches while others sat on the floor. Ms. Robinson wrote that Ms. Miller addressed the students telling them that for the next thirty (30) days they would be eating in their classroom for their behavior.

In an interview with this investigator and Ms. Shakespeare Ms. Robinson stated that the students were brought into the gym by Ms. Miller. Ms. Robinson stated that the students chose their seats. Some of the students sat on the benches while others sat on the floor. Ms. Robinson was asked if any of the students were forced to sit on the floor and eat their lunch. Ms. Robinson said, "No." Ms. Robinson was asked if any of the students were denied permission to get eating utensils by Ms. Miller. Ms. Robinson said, "No." When asked, Ms. Robinson said that she did not hear Ms. Miller make any derogatory statements. Ms. Robinson did state that she heard Ms. Miller tell the students that because of their behavior, they would be eating their lunch in their classroom for thirty (30) days.

Interview with School Aide Goode

This investigator interviewed Ms. Goode, School Aide, who had previously given a written statement to Ms. Shakespeare. In her written statement, Ms. Goode wrote that during the second lunch period, with the fourth grade, Ms. Miller escorted Ms. Theodore's class into the gym. Ms. Goode wrote that Ms. Miller told the students to sit on the bench and wait for Mr. Dennis, who had taken Ms. Theodore's students back to their classroom the previous two days. Ms. Goode wrote that Ms. Miller was called away unaware that Mr. Dennis was substituting in another classroom. Ms. Goode wrote that the students remained in the gym until Ms. Theodore came for them.

In an interview with this investigator and Ms. Shakespeare, Ms. Goode stated that the students were brought into the gym by Ms. Miller. Ms. Goode stated that the students were sitting on the benches eating lunch. Ms. Goode was asked if any of the students were sitting on the floor eating lunch. Ms. Goode said, "No." Ms. Goode was asked if any of the students were denied permission to get eating utensils by Ms. Miller. Ms. Goode said, "No." Ms. Goode was asked if she heard Ms. Miller make any derogatory statement while speaking to the students about their behavior. Ms. Goode said, "No."

Interview with Assistant Principal Miller

This investigator interviewed Ms. Miller, Assistant Principal, in the presence of Mr. Schwartz, Representative, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. When asked, Ms. Miller stated that she began her employment with the DOE on September 1, 1993. Ms. Miller stated from 1993 through 1998 she was assigned to PS 177. Ms. Miller stated that in 1998 she left the NYCDOE. Ms. Miller stated that in 2001 she returned to the NYCDOE and was reassigned to PS 177 where she remained until June 2, 2004.

Ms. Miller stated that on June 3, 2004, she was assigned as Assistant Principal at PS 34Q. Ms. Miller was asked if prior to being interviewed by Ms. Shakespeare, Principal, PS 34Q, if she had any prior relationship, professional or otherwise, with Ms. Shakespeare. Ms. Miller said, "No." Ms. Miller stated that she only met Ms. Shakespeare when she was interviewed for the Assistant Principal position.

After being made aware of the allegations, Ms. Miller stated that on the day of occurrence, nine of the twelve students were misbehaving, fighting, running and bumping into other students while in the school cafeteria. Ms. Miller stated that she has had behavioral problems with this class in the past. Ms. Miller stated that she gathered the students and brought them into the gym (multi-purpose room.) Ms. Miller stated that she separated the students, having three (3) students sit on three benches and telling the other nine (9) students to sit on the floor. Ms. Miller stated that she addressed the students and told them that their behavior is inappropriate and that it needs to stop. Ms. Miller stated that the students sat in their places and she went back to supervising both the cafeteria and the multi purpose room. Ms. Miller was asked if, when she gathered the students to take them into the multi purpose room, any of the students were on line to get their lunch. Ms. Miller said, "No." Ms. Miller stated that she assumed all of the students had already eaten because it was twenty minutes into the lunch period. Ms. Miller was asked if, when she took the students into the multi purpose room, she noticed any of the students having food with them. Ms. Miller said, "No." Ms. Miller stated that everything happened so quickly. Ms. Miller stated that she had taken the twelve students away from the other students so no one would be injured.

Ms. Miller was asked if, when she was addressing the students, she told the students that they were acting like "animals." Ms. Miller stated that she never used the word "animals." Ms. Miller stated that she told the students that for their ages their behavior was unacceptable. Ms. Miller was asked either when gathering the students to go into the multi purpose room or when addressing the students in the multi purpose room, if any of the students asked permission to go get eating utensils. Ms. Miller stated that the students knew that she was angry and none of the students asked any questions.

Ms. Miller was asked if when addressing the students, if she referred to "Haiti" in any way. Ms. Miller stated that she did not mention "Haiti." Ms. Miller was asked if in addressing the students, if she used "country" or "your country." Ms. Miller said, "No." Ms. Miller was asked how long the whole incident lasted. Ms. Miller stated that the whole incident lasted three minutes. Ms. Miller was asked how and when she was first made aware of allegations. Ms. Miller stated that on Tuesday, March 29, 2005, Ms. Shakespeare, Principal, called her into her (Ms. Shakespeare's) office inquiring as to what had happened the day that she (Ms. Shakespeare) was out of the school building. Ms. Miller stated that Ms. Shakespeare asked if an incident occurred with Ms. Theodore's class. Ms. Miller stated that she informed Ms. Shakespeare that nothing out of the ordinary had occurred, but that Ms. Theodore's class was misbehaving. Ms. Miller stated that Ms. Shakespeare then asked if she had made any racial comments, made students sit on the floor or made students eat lunch with their hands. Ms. Miller stated that she explained to Ms. Shakespeare exactly what was stated above.

Ms. Miller explained that the multi-purpose room is used for a number of things. Ms. Miller stated that students sit on the floor daily for different reasons like watching television, videos or just during playtime. Ms. Miller was asked if she had spoken to anyone regarding the incident or allegations prior to Tuesday, March 29, 2005, when the allegations were reported. Ms. Miller said, "No." Ms. Miller was asked if she knew of anyone who might be angry with her or have an agenda against her. Ms. Miller stated that Ms. Theodore and other Haitian Teachers are under the impression that she and Ms. Shakespeare might dissolve the Bi-Lingual Program at PS 34Q. Ms. Miller was asked about a statement attributed to her that the students would eat in their classroom for thirty (30) days because of their behavior. Ms. Miller stated that she may have made that statement. Ms. Miller stated that she has said that in the past to students, in an attempt to have them behave, but that she had no recollection of making that statement that day.

Interview of Crisis Intervention Teacher Vertus

This investigator interviewed Ms. Vertus, Crisis Intervention, Tenured Teacher, who stated that on Tuesday, March 29, 2005, she was summoned to Ms. Shakespeare's Office. Ms. Vertus stated upon her arrival, Mr. Thomas Fox, Attorney, Region 3, was already present. Ms. Vertus stated that Mr. Fox informed both her and Ms. Shakespeare of the allegations concerning Ms. Miller, Assistant Principal. Ms. Vertus stated that Mr. Fox reported the incident online and instructed Ms. Shakespeare to file an incident report. Ms. Vertus stated that they were having difficulty with the school computers all day, Tuesday, March 29, 2005, and that the incident was reported a second time in error on Wednesday, March 30, 2005. Ms. Vertus also stated that on Wednesday, March 23, 2005, she was summoned to Ms. Farrell's classroom and asked to remove a student who was misbehaving. Ms. Vertus stated that she removed the student and entered Ms. Theodore's classroom and asked if the student could remain with Ms. Theodore until parents were notified.

While Ms. Vertus was in the classroom, Ms. Theodore asked Ms. Vertus to listen to what the students were saying. Ms. Vertus stated that the students informed her that they were made to sit on the floor during lunch. Ms. Vertus stated she again asked the students if they were made to sit on the floor to which they replied "Yes." Ms. Vertus stated that she informed Ms. Theodore that she would inform Ms. Shakespeare. Ms. Vertus stated that Ms. Shakespeare was out of the building that day, but she did contact Ms. Shakespeare that same evening. Ms. Vertus stated that after informing Ms. Shakespeare of what the students had reported, Ms. Shakespeare asked if Ms. Vertus had spoken to Ms. Miller. Ms. Vertus stated that she informed Ms. Shakespeare that she had not spoken to Ms. Miller. Ms. Vertus stated that she informed Ms. Shakespeare that she as the principal should speak with Ms. Miller to obtain the details.

Ms. Vertus was asked if she had any knowledge of Ms. Miller making derogatory statements. Ms. Vertus said, "No." Ms. Vertus was asked if she had any knowledge of students in Ms. Theodore's classroom writing statements concerning the allegations. Ms. Vertus advised that when Mr. Fox was at the school interviewing students, she learned that a student had written a statement for Ms. Theodore.

Interview of Teacher Theodore

This investigator interviewed Ms. Theodore, Tenured Teacher, in the presence of Mr. Gottlieb, United Federation of Teachers Representative. Ms. Theodore stated that on Wednesday, March 23, 2005, upon her return to the classroom from lunch, Ms. Nogais, Intern Teacher, asked her if she had heard what the students were saying. Ms. Theodore stated that she asked the students what they were talking about. Ms. Theodore stated that the students informed her that Students B and C were fighting and that Ms. Miller became angry and took the class into the gym.

Ms. Theodore stated that the children had their lunch, but not utensils. Ms. Theodore stated that the students reported that Ms. Miller sat them on the floor and when they asked to get their forks, Ms. Miller refused. Ms. Theodore stated that the students also said that Ms. Miller called them "animals" and made derogatory statements about their homeland, Haiti. Ms. Theodore stated that Ms. Vertus, Crisis Intervention Teacher, entered her classroom and that she asked Ms. Vertus to listen to what the students were reporting. Ms. Theodore stated that she believed that the students told Ms. Vertus all of the allegations they had reported to her. Ms. Theodore stated that Ms. Vertus left her classroom saying that she would inform Ms. Shakespeare, Principal.

Ms. Theodore stated that she instructed the students to write statements stating what they had reported to her. Ms. Theodore stated that not all of the students' statements were turned in to her that day. Ms. Theodore stated that some students turned in their statements the following day. Ms. Theodore was asked if she assisted the students in writing their statements in any way. Ms. Theodore said, "No." Ms. Theodore was asked if any of the students informed her that they were assisted by their parents in writing statements. Ms. Theodore said, "No." Ms. Theodore was asked why the statements were dated March 16, 2005, when they were written on Wednesday, March 23, 2005. Ms. Theodore stated that that is what the students wrote. Ms. Theodore was asked if all of her bilingual students understand English. Ms. Theodore stated that eight (8) of the twelve students understand English and the other four (4) students are just learning. Ms. Theodore was asked if the four students who are just learning English wrote statements. Ms. Theodore said, "Yes." Ms. Theodore was asked how the four students who are just learning English wrote statements. Ms. Theodore stated that the students helped each other write statements while in the classroom on Wednesday, March 23, 2005.

Ms. Theodore was asked what she did with the statements after the students wrote them. Ms. Theodore stated that she held onto the statements waiting for Ms. Shakespeare to come and speak with her. Ms. Theodore was asked why, when no one came to speak with her, she did not approach Ms. Shakespeare. Ms. Theodore stated that she knew Ms. Shakespeare knew of the incident because Ms. Vertus had told her that she had informed Ms. Shakespeare.[4] Ms. Theodore was asked if she had overheard any of the allegations that were told to Ms. Vertus by the students. Ms. Theodore stated that she did not hear what was reported to Ms. Vertus by the students. Ms. Theodore was asked when she turned over the statements to Ms. Shakespeare. Ms. Theodore stated that on Tuesday, March 29, 2005, Mr. Fox was present at 34Q. Ms. Theodore stated that Mr. Fox and Ms. Shakespeare interviewed her regarding the allegations. Ms. Theodore stated that after Mr. Fox and Ms. Shakespeare interviewed one of her students, Ms. Shakespeare asked her (Ms. Theodore) if she had in her possession any statements written by students. Ms. Theodore stated that when she informed Ms. Shakespeare that she did, Ms. Shakespeare asked her for them. Ms. Theodore was asked if, when she was interviewed by Mr. Fox and Ms. Shakespeare, she informed them that she had the students write statements. Ms. Theodore said,
" No." Ms. Theodore was asked why not. Ms. Theodore stated that Mr. Fox was asking her questions which she answered. Ms. Theodore stated that she did not think of the written statements.

Ms. Theodore was also asked if, prior to this incident, she had had any knowledge of any prior incidents concerning anyone making derogatory statements regarding Haiti. Ms. Theodore stated that at the beginning of the school year (near the end of October), early one morning while the students were lining up in the gym to be escorted to their classrooms, her students were being unruly. Ms. Theodore stated that when her students arrived in the classroom, Student B informed her that Ms. Miller said that they were acting the way they were because of the country they come from. Ms. Theodore stated that she informed Ms. Shakespeare of the allegation.

Ms. Theodore stated that she believes that Ms. Shakespeare addressed Ms. Miller regarding the allegation because the following morning, Ms. Miller approached her and asked how could she (Ms. Theodore) believe she would make a remark like that. Ms. Theodore stated that she replied to Ms. Miller that people say things when they are angry. Ms. Theodore stated that Ms. Miller told her that she is not a racist and did not make that remark. Ms. Theodore stated that Ms. Miller asked her to address the students and tell them that she did not make such a remark. Ms. Theodore stated that she informed Ms. Miller that her students were upset and that she should address the students. Ms. Theodore stated that she and Ms. Miller went to the gym where her students were lined up. Ms. Theodore stated that Ms. Miller took her class to the cafeteria and had them sit down. Ms. Theodore stated that Ms. Miller asked the students what they thought she had said. Ms. Theodore stated that Student B said what she had heard, that they are acting that way because of the country they are from. Ms. Theodore stated that Ms. Miller told the students that that she did not make such a remark. Ms. Theodore stated that Ms. Miller explained she had said, "You (students) should be behaving better because of the country you are from." Ms. Theodore stated that Student B began to cry thinking that she was in trouble. Ms. Theodore stated that Ms. Miller explained to Student B that she is not in trouble, and if there is anything wrong, to go to a teacher and talk about the problem.

Second Interview of School Aide Goode

This investigator re-interviewed Ms. Goode, School Aide, who stated that on March 16, 2005, students entered the gym and some sat on benches and others sat on the floor. Ms. Goode stated that some of the students had their lunch trays with them. Ms. Goode stated that Ms. Miller then entered the gym and told the students that their behavior was unacceptable, and that they will be eating in their classroom for the next thirty (30) days. Ms. Goode was asked if she observed any of the students eating their lunch with their hands. Ms. Goode said, "No." Ms. Goode was asked if any of the students asked Ms. Miller for permission to get a fork or spoon. Ms. Goode said, "No."

Re-interviews of Students

All of the following students were re-interviewed, in the presence of Paraprofessional, Ms. Divivier, concerning the alleged October 2004 incident.

Student A, Male, 13 years of age, 5th Grade, stated that Ms. Miller is not in the gym in the morning while the students are lining up. Student A stated that Ms. Miller did not say anything bad.

This investigator attempted to re-interview Student B in the presence of Ms. Divivier, Paraprofessional, regarding the allegation which occurred in October 2004. Student B advised this investigator that her parents did not want her interviewed any further.

Student C, Male, 9 years of age, 4th Grade, stated that he only remembers Ms. Miller making the students sit on the floor.

Student F, Male, 9 years of age, 4th Grade, stated to Ms. Divivier, who translated, that the only thing Ms. Miller said was to sit on the floor.

Student G, Female, 10 years of age, 4th Grade, stated that while in the gym Ms. Miller made a statement about the students' country and their behavior. Student G stated that the students were playing in the gym when Ms. Miller told them to line up. Student G stated that the students did not hear Ms. Miller and continued playing. Student G stated that is when Ms. Miller made her remarks. Student G was asked what Ms. Miller had said. Student G stated the remark was something like their country made them like that. Student G stated that she told Ms. Theodore. Student G stated that the following day, Ms. Miller sat the class in the cafeteria and explained that she did not make that comment.

Student H, Female, 9 years of age, 4th Grade, stated that the only remarks she heard Ms. Miller make was that when the boys were acting bad, Ms. Miller called them "animals."

Student I, Male, 9 years of age, 4th Grade, stated that he did not hear any derogatory statements.

Student J, Female, 9 years of age, 4th Grade, stated that she did not hear any derogatory statements.

Student K, Male, 10 years of age, 4th Grade, stated that he does not know if Ms. Miller is present in the gym in the morning when the students line up.

Student G was re-interviewed and was asked if she heard Ms. Miller make the derogatory remarks. Student G stated that as she walked into the gym she heard someone say maybe their country made them like that. Student G stated that she asked Student B who said that. Student G stated that Student B told her that it was Ms. Miller talking to their class because the students were not listening to her. Student G was asked if she could provide this investigator with the names of any other possible witnesses to this allegation. Student B provided the name of one possible witness. This witness is currently out of school due to the death of a family member and therefore could not be interviewed.

On Tuesday, April 19, 2005, this investigator contacted the parent of Student B, via telephone, and requested permission to re-interview Student B regarding the new information obtained. In the presence of her parent Student B was re-interviewed and stated that on that morning, while in the gymnasium waiting to line up to be escorted to their classroom, students were running and playing. Student B stated that Ms. Miller told the students to line up. Student B stated that the students continued playing and Ms. Miller said, "You can act like that in Haiti, but not in New York." Student B stated upon entering the classroom, she reported the incident to Teacher, Ms. Theodore. Student B stated that Ms. Miller took the class to the cafeteria and asked what they thought they had heard her say. Student B stated that Ms. Miller explained that she did not say what Student B thought she had heard and that Student B must have misunderstood.

When asked by this investigator what Ms. Miller said she had said, Student B stated that she could not remember. When asked by this investigator whether she might have misunderstood what Ms. Miller said, Student B said, yes, she could have.

Second Interview of Principal Shakespeare

This investigator re-interviewed Ms. Shakespeare, Principal, in the presence of Ms. Lazar, Representative, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. Ms. Shakespeare stated that she began with the NYCDOE as a teacher in 1994. Ms. Shakespeare stated that from 1994 through 1999 she was a teacher at PS 95K. Ms. Shakespeare stated that in either October or November 1999, she was assigned as an Assistant Principal and was assigned to PS 100K until March 2004, when she was assigned Principal to PS 34Q.

Ms. Shakespeare was asked that if prior to interviewing Ms. Miller for her position as Assistant Principal at PS 34Q, did she (Ms. Shakespeare) have any personal or professional relationship with Ms. Miller. Ms. Shakespeare said, "No." Ms. Shakespeare was asked if she was made aware of the allegation that Ms.
Miller made students sit on the floor during lunch on Wednesday, March 23, 2005, by Ms. Vertus. Ms. Shakespeare stated that on Wednesday, March 23, 2005, she was out of the school building at a Regional Principal's Conference. Ms. Shakespeare stated that toward the end of the school day she contacted Ms.
Vertus, via telephone, inquiring what if anything had occurred at PS 34Q during her absence. Ms. Shakespeare stated that Ms. Vertus informed her that during the school day she (Ms. Vertus) entered Ms. Theodore's classroom and Ms. Theodore informed her that her students were upset because they were made to sit on the floor during their lunch period by Ms. Miller. Ms. Shakespeare stated that she then contacted Ms. Miller, Assistant Principal, via telephone, and asked if any students were made to sit on the floor during lunch that day. Ms. Shakespeare stated that Ms. Miller informed her that no students were made to sit on the floor that day. Ms. Shakespeare did no further follow-up of Ms. Vertus's reported allegation. Ms. Shakespeare was asked if anyone reported to her in October 2004 that Ms. Miller made derogatory statements regarding students' ethnicity. Ms. Shakespeare stated that no one reported any such allegation to her.

Second Interview of Assistant Principal Miller

This investigator re-interviewed Ms. Miller, Assistant Principal, in the presence of Mr. Schwartz, Representative, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. Ms. Miller was asked the time that the second (2nd) lunch period begins and ends at PS 34Q. Ms. Miller stated that the lunch period begins at
11:40 AM and ends at approximately 12:29 PM. Ms. Miller was asked on the day of occurrence, how long Ms. Theodore's students were in the cafeteria prior to being escorted into the multi purpose room. Ms. Miller said approximately fifteen (15) or twenty (20) minutes. Ms. Miller was asked if she escorted students into the multi purpose room, and she replied "Yes." Ms. Miller was asked when she escorted students into the multi purpose room, and separated the students, if the students had food with them. Ms. Miller stated she did not see any of the students with food in their possession. Ms. Miller was asked in addressing the students, what comments she made. Ms. Miller stated that she told the students that they were getting too old for that type of behavior and that their behavior was unacceptable. Ms. Miller also stated that as discussed in the previous interview, she might have told the students that as a result of their behavior, they will be eating in their classroom for the next thirty (30) days, but she has no recollection of making such a statement that day.

Ms. Miller stated that after addressing the students, she returned to her duties. Ms. Miller was asked if at any time prior to this incident she had to explain to these same students a statement made by her that may have been misinterpreted. Ms. Miller said, "Yes." Ms Miller was asked to explain the circumstances of the incident, and she stated that in September 2004, Ms. Theodore, Teacher, came to her and informed her that her (Ms. Theodore's) students were upset over a comment that Ms. Miller had made. Ms. Miller stated that she asked Ms. Theodore what comment she was referring to and Ms. Miller stated that, to the best of her recollection, the comment referred to the students' country of origin. Ms. Miller stated that she informed Ms. Theodore that she would like to speak with her students. Ms. Miller stated that she, Ms. Theodore and the students sat in the school cafeteria. Ms. Miller stated that she gave the students two choices, (A) statement she made (which she could not remember) and (B) statement students thought that she had said (referring to their country of origin). Ms. Miller stated that after asking the students which statement she had made the students chose statement (A). Ms. Miller stated that one of the female students began to cry. Ms. Miller stated that she asked the student if she was crying because she believed that Ms. Miller made the statement referring to her country or because she thought that she was in trouble. Ms. Miller stated that the student replied that she thought that she was in trouble. Ms. Miller stated that she comforted the student by hugging her and informed the student that in no way was she in trouble.

Third Interview of Principal Shakespeare

On April 22, 2005, Ms. Shakespeare was interviewed at the Office of Special Investigations with her union representative, Marlene Lazaar. Ms. Shakespeare was asked again whether she had any past prior professional or personal relationship with Ms. Miller, and she stated "No". She said that, professionally, Ms. Miller is a very hard and dedicated worker, but that her first encounter with Ms. Miller was when she was interviewed for the position of Assistant Principal.

This investigator again asked about the March 2005 incident where children were made to sit on the floor during lunch as reported by Ms. Vertus. Ms. Shakespeare replied again that she spoke to Ms. Miller and specifically asked whether children were made to sit on the floor during lunch to which Miller told
Ms. Shakespeare that "No children were made to sit on the floor that day." She was questioned further as to why she didn't probe further regarding the discrepancy in the statements of Ms. Vertus and Ms. Miller. Ms. Shakespeare replied that the children sit on the floor on a daily basis doing appropriate recess activities, such as puzzles and reading, if they don't go outside during recess, so she did not find this allegation inappropriate. Ms. Shakespeare was further questioned regarding the October 2004 allegation that Ms. Miller made derogatory comments about Haiti to two students. Ms. Shakespeare denied any knowledge of this alleged incident.

CONCLUSIONS

March 2005 incident

The Office of Special Investigations found the student witnesses credible. The students' accounts of the March incident during oral interviews were consistent with each other. Although there are some differences in the details of their accounts, the students all say that Ms. Miller brought them to the gymnasium with their lunch and made them sit on the floor. Some of the students say that Ms. Miller did so because two of the students had been fighting. All the students also say that Ms. Miller did not allow them to get up to obtain utensils, so that they had to eat with their hands. The consistency of their accounts and their demeanor during the interviews supports their credibility, as does the fact that their March 23 written statements regarding the incident are consistent with the details they provided during the interviews. Moreover, although the written statements given to Principal Shakespeare during her initial investigation are briefer than the March 23 written statements, they contain many of the same details the students expressed in the March 23 written statements and the oral interviews with this investigator.[5]

Furthermore, some details from the students' accounts are corroborated by Ms. Miller and Ms. Goode. Ms. Miller stated that she brought the students into the gymnasium because they were being unruly, and she said that she had most of them sit on the floor. Although Ms. Miller said she does not remember the children having food when she brought them into the cafeteria, Ms. Goode stated that the children brought lunch trays into the gymnasium and ate lunch there, corroborating the students' account.

While the students accounts are entirely consistent about their being brought into the gymnasium, sitting on the floor, and eating with their hands, there are differences between their accounts of what Ms. Miller said to them. Ms. Miller's statements that she was angry because the students had been unruly in the cafeteria, and that the students knew that she was angry, tend to support the students' account that she was yelling at them, but they do not resolve the issue of what she said. In their March 23 statements, eight of the eleven students involved in the incident said that Ms. Miller had referred to them as animals. During oral interviews with this investigator, again eight of the eleven students (seven of the eight who had included it in their March 23 statements plus one more student who had not) said that Ms. Miller called them animals or said that they were behaving like animals (although it should be noted that one of those eight said that he had not understood what Ms. Miller said and asked another student to tell him). In regard to the alleged comments about Haiti, however, only two students said in their March 23 statements that Ms. Miller had made a statement about the students' "country." During the oral interviews with this investigator, the same two students said that Ms. Miller had made a comment about their "country," and two other students said, for the first time, that Ms. Miller had made comments about Haiti or Haitians. But one of those two students is the one who said he did not understand Ms. Miller's comments and asked another student what she had said, and the other students' statement that Ms. Miller said Haitians are "stupid" and "bad" is entirely uncorroborated. Moreover, two other students said during their oral interviews with this investigator that Ms. Miller did not say anything about Haiti.

There is thus substantial evidence that Ms. Miller made reference to the children as "animals," but insufficient evidence to conclude that she made any statement about Haiti or Haitians.

To the extent that some school employees who were in the gymnasium did not hear Ms. Miller make the comments the students attributed to her, it should be noted that these employees were in a different part of the gymnasium from where the incident took place and were engaged in other duties while the incident took
place. Specifically, House, Robinson and Goode were on the other side of the gymnasium handling lunch duties with other students. Thus, the fact that they did not hear the comments made by Ms. Miller does not undermine the accounts given by the students.

This investigator did not find Ms. Miller's account of the incident to be credible. Her statement that she believed students had already finished lunch when she brought them to the gymnasium is belied not only by the students' accounts but by Ms. Goode's statement that the children brought their lunch. Moreover, the fact that the students had their lunch tends to support the students' statements that some of them asked to get utensils to eat with, while undermining Ms. Miller's assertion that the students asked her no questions. Although Ms. Miller asserted that she only told the students that they were behaving inappropriately, and that she did not make any derogatory comments, her denial that the children had lunch undermines her account.

Accordingly, the allegation that Ms. Miller forced students to sit on the floor while they ate lunch is substantiated.

The allegation that Ms. Miller did not allow students to retrieve utensils, resulting in their having to eat their lunch with their hands, is substantiated.

The allegation that Ms. Miller referred to the students as "animals" is substantiated. The allegation that Ms. Miller made disparaging remarks about Haiti or the children's country of origin is unsubstantiated.

During this investigation, it was discovered that on March 23, Ms. Vertus told Ms. Shakespeare that the children had reported to her (Ms. Vertus) that they had been made to sit on the floor during their lunch period. This raises the question of whether Ms. Shakespeare failed to report an incident of verbal abuse to the Office of Special Investigations, as is required by Chancellor's Regulation A-421.

According to Ms. Vertus, on March 23, the students told her that they had been made to sit on the floor during lunch, but that they did not tell her about any disparaging remarks or about eating with their hands.[6] It does not appear that Ms. Vertus made a detailed inquiry of the children at this time. She reported to Ms. Shakespeare what the children had told her. There is no evidence that Ms. Vertus told Ms. Shakespeare about any disparaging remarks or about the children eating with their hands. According to Ms. Shakespeare, Ms. Vertus told her that the students were upset because they had been made to sit on the floor. Ms. Shakespeare had been out of the school at a conference on that day, and she called Ms. Miller and asked if any students had been made to sit on the floor during lunch that day, and Ms. Miller said none had. Ms. Shakespeare said that it is not unusual for children to sit on the floor in the gymnasium during their recess after lunch, as the children have puzzle and reading time on the floor. Therefore, she did not think the incident was unusual at that time. Based upon her demeanor and her consistent answers to questions, this investigator found Ms. Shakespeare credible.

While it might have been more prudent for Ms. Shakespeare to inquire further about the incident after she spoke to Ms. Vertus and Ms. Miller on March 23, it does not appear that the information provided to her by Ms. Vertus included any allegations of verbal abuse, such as calling children "animals" or making disparaging remarks about Hiati, or any allegation that the children had had to eat lunch with their hands. It appears that Ms. Vertus told her only that children had been made to sit on the floor during lunch. Furthermore, there is no evidence that Ms. Shakespeare learned of the allegations concerning children eating on the floor with their hands or concerning Ms. Miller making disparaging comments to the children prior to March 29, when she learned of the March 28 email to the Chancellor's Office. Ms. Shakespeare reported those allegations to OSI the same day she learned about it. The evidence does not support a conclusion that Ms. Shakespeare improperly failed to report an incident.

Accordingly, the allegation that Ms. Shakespeare failed to report an allegation of verbal abuse in March is unsubstantiated.

October 2004 incident

During Ms. Theodore's interview, Ms. Theodore stated that there had been another incident in October of last year. According to Ms. Vertus, students in her class said that in October, Ms. Miller had made derogatory comments about Haiti to them while they were lined up in the gym. This investigator then investigated this alleged incident.

Of the students who were present in the gymnasium on the day of the alleged October incident, only two, students B and G, stated that Ms. Miller had made improper comments. Student B stated that Ms. Miller made a disparaging comment about Haiti, and Student G stated that Ms. Miller made a statement about the students' country. None of the other students present reported any such statements. Moreover, when interviewed about this incident, Student G said that she had heard someone make a statement about the students' country, but did not know who had made that statement until Student B told her it was Ms. Miller. Student B, moreover, said that he might have misunderstood Ms. Miller. There is thus insufficient evidence to conclude that Ms. Miller made the alleged statements during the October incident.

Accordingly, the allegation that Ms. Miller made disparaging statements about Haiti or the students' country during October is unsubstantiated.

It should also be noted that Ms. Theodore stated that she informed Ms. Shakespeare in October about the alleged October statements. This investigator therefore investigated whether Ms. Shakespeare had improperly failed to report the October incident.

Ms. Shakespeare stated that no one, including Ms. Theodore, had told her about the alleged October incident. When Ms. Miller was interviewed about the alleged October incident, she denied making the statements and said she learned from Ms. Theodore that some students believed she had made them. In regard to the October incident, Ms. Miller's account that, after learning from Ms. Theodore that students believed she had made the statement, she spoke to the class about the incident is corroborated by the students. Ms. Miller's account supports the conclusion that Ms. Theodore notified Ms. Miller directly, rather than notifying the principal, Ms. Shakespeare. It appears that Ms. Theodore may be mistaken as to whom she notified about the October incident, but in any event there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that Ms. Shakespeare was notified about the October incident.

Accordingly, the allegation that Ms. Shakespeare failed to report the alleged October incident of verbal abuse is unsubstantiated.

SUBMITTED BY:
__________________

Robert T. Small
Confidential Investigator

APPROVED BY:
__________________
Thomas Hyland
Deputy Director

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[1] Ms. Shakespeare informed this investigator that the portion of the gym where the children eat is referred to at the school as the lower gym. She also informed this investigator that the multi-purpose area is referred to at the school as the multi-purpose area.

[2] At the time of these student interviews, Ms. Shakespeare was not a subject of this investigation.

[3] Ms. Shakespeare did not provide a written statement from Student F.

[4] Because Ms. Vertus stated that on March 23 she had told Ms. Shakespeare what the children had told her (Ms. Vertus), and Ms. Theodore indicated that she believed Ms. Shakespeare knew what the children had said, Ms. Shakespeare became a subject of this investigation following the interviews of Ms. Vertus and Ms. Theodore. This investigator investigated whether Ms. Shakespeare had improperly failed to report the March 16 incident.

[5] Some of the students' written statements to Ms. Shakespeare do not contain details contained in their other statements, but this lack of detail in some of the statements does not undermine the conclusions reached by this investigator. Student A's written statement to Ms. Shakespeare, for instance, does not contain many of the details in his other statements, but this investigator found credible Student A's explanation that he had not been comfortable talking to Ms. Shakespeare about the incident. What is most striking is not the lack of detail in some of the students' statements to Ms. Shakespeare but the relatively consistent version of events the students give in multiple statements.

[6] Because Ms. Theodore asked Ms. Vertus, on March 23, to listen to the children's account of the incident, and Ms. Vertus advised that she would tell Ms. Shakespeare about the incident, the allegation that Ms. Theodore failed to report the incident is unsubstantiated.