(New York-WABC, April 12, 2005) — A school official is accused of discriminating against students. An assistant principal is under fire for her treatment of more than a dozen Haitian children, allegedly calling them animals.
Outraged parents today staged a protest outside of PS 34 in Queens Village. Our education reporter Art McFarland is at the school with the story.
About three weeks ago, there was apparently a shoving incident between fourth-graders inside of P.S. 34. Parents and students say after that, an assistant principal disciplined the children with cruelty and humiliation.
Their account of what happened has led to fierce controversy in New York's Haitian community.
Ten-year-old Jahana Mayard has a very troubling story to tell about what she and others say happened to them inside of the P.S. 34 cafeteria.
Jahana Mayard, Student: "Some kids was fighting in school by mistake and the Ms. Miller took us and made us sit on the floor and eat with our hand."
Police believe the Mrs. Miller she refers to is Nancy Miller, assistant principal. Reportedly she ordered 13 fourth graders to sit on the floor and eat with no utensils.
Esther Monuis, Student: "That never happened to me in Haiti. She was calling me an animal. That never happened to me."
A small group of Haitian-Americans turned out to demonstrate at the school charging racism and demanding strong action.
Moise Gabriel, Protestor: "What I would like to see happen is for that principal to be fired because we don't think she has a place in society."
Some of the children also say school administrators tried to bribe and coerce them into changing their story.
Mayard: "They offered me ice cream so I could change my subject. I said 'No, I don't want ice cream because I'm not lying.'"
The children say the assistant principal told them she was treating them the way they say she did because that is the way their people are treated in Haiti.
No comment this afternoon from the Assistant Principal Nancy Miller. Some city council members are calling for her to be fired. As for the department of education, they say, a strong investigation is under way.