Brooklyn Principal Arrested, Accused of Attacking 7-Year-Old Student
Investigators say a principal at an East New York school last month kicked and hit a 7-year-old boy who was apparently acting out in class. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Seven-year-old Hasheem Welch described how he says the principal of PS 202 in East New York attacked him on March 13.
"He grabbed me and swung me and bring me in the staircase and kicked me, and then he smacked me," Welch said.
"He said, 'I don't want to go to that school no more, mommy.' I said, 'Why, Hasheem?' He said, 'Because Mr. Edwards smacked me in my face and kicked me,'" said Shema McKenzie, Hasheem's mother.
Principal Michael-Spencer Edwards was arrested Tuesday on several charges, including misdemeanor assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
"He smacked me right here, and he kicked me, like, right on my stomach," Hasheem said.
Hasheem's mother had an ambulance take him to the hospital.
"The left side of his face was swollen, and his stomach, he had a bruise that was green and blue," McKenzie said.
She says she spoke with three different groups of police officers, but was told it was a school matter.
When she and Hasheem's father met with the principal two days later, she says he denied it. Police sources say they eventually retrieved surveillance footage that led to the principal's arrest.
Hasheem says the dispute was over his refusal to take off a hoodie sweatshirt in the cafeteria. He says when the principal threatened to confiscate the sweatshirt, he'd tried to run away and pushed a teacher.
How did the principal's reaction make the second-grader feel?
"Mad a little bit. And sad," he said.
The Department of Education removed Edwards from the school after his arrest, putting him on desk duty, where he will continue to receive his $140,000-a-year salary.
The department normally acts immediately to remove a staff member being investigated for harming a child. Asked why that didn't happen here, a spokesman said the department only recently received new information.
Two other parents outside the school Wednesday said their children had also reported being hurt by Edwards.
"What my son was, he said that the principal grabbed him by his arm," said one parent.
"I was also informed by my son that Mr. Edwards hit him, but I didn't believe my son because I couldn't picture a principal putting their hands on a kid," said another.
She began to cry, saying she owed her son an apology.