NYC Charter school accused of abuse

May 19, 2010 3:18:17 PM PDT
Officials at a charter school in upper Manhattan denied charges that they condoned assaults and abuses of their students. An investigation by the city's Special Commissioner of Investigation found that students at Opportunity Charter School, located on West 113th street in Morningside Heights, were thrown to the floor and even dragged around by their hair. The report went on to claim OCS staffers covered up the abuses by falsifying documents and failing to file incident reports.

According to the investigation, during the 2007 and 2008 school year, OSC hired a team of behavioral management specialists to deal with unruly students. But the specialists allegedly beat up the kids as form of discipline.

In one incident, a 15-year-old girl's had her head pulled off her desk and dragged out of the classroom by her hair. A 14-year-old boy reportedly was thrown to the ground and pinned down after he refused to remove what the staff referred to as "gang beads." Another case involves a 12-year-old boy who was put in a headlock. He ended up with a bloody nose and a black eye.

The investigation found OCS staffers routinely neglected to file incident reports. In response to anonymous allegations of physical abuse of students by the staff, the school falsely concluded that the allegations were unsubstantiated. .

In a statement, OCS administrators said the school "categorically disagrees with the report's assertion that the oversight and reporting lapses that occurred two years ago could be considered condoned assaults and abuse of schoolchildren." .

School administrators went on to say the abuse allegations were investigated during the 2007-2008 school year, and a number of changes have been made at the school, including changes in senior administrators and the creation of a Human Rights Committee to review all incidents involving students.

The Special Commissioner has referred the matter to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.