There is uproar at a Staten Island high school after a pamphlet was distributed in some classes urging students not to join the military after graduation. NY1 Staten Island Reporter Amanda Farinacci has this exclusive report.
A guest speaker at Port Richmond High School has students and parents talking — but not in the way an assistant principal intended.
"It was very, a lot to handle," student Victoria Caliendo said. "A lot to take in, and just, like, overblown to say. Like, wow."
The speaker, a disabled veteran from the War Resisters League, was invited into several 12th grade social studies classes Monday.
He handed out a pamphlet, "What every girl should know about the U.S. Military."
It contained passages like this:
"For many, joining the military means suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from combat, oppressing people & occupying their lands, and/or Military Sexual Trauma (MST) from sexual violence."
Parents who later saw it are upset.
"It's not all peaches and cream. It's hard work. It is," parent Jack Caliendo said. "But the stuff they put in that flyer, it's ridiculous. That's not right, and that shouldn't be put out there about our military."
NY1 has learned that Port Richmond High School's assistant principal, who is also in charge of the school's active Junior ROTC program, arranged the speaker.
But at least one teacher refused to allow her students to hear the presentation — although about 140 seniors sat through it.
The principal was not in school Tuesday, but sources told NY1 that the assistant principal spent a lot of time doing damage control, visiting classrooms and reminding students she was simply trying to present a different perspective on the military.
The anti-military rhetoric came as the school's principal, Oneatha Swinton, is under investigation by school officials for allegedly using an out-of-state address to get cheaper car insurance.
Off-camera, one teacher defended Swinton, doubting she knew about the guest speaker:
The teacher (off-camera): Maybe she wasn't even aware of it? You know, she wasn't here yesterday, either.
Parent Nicole Caliendo: Come on. She doesn't know what goes on in her school? She's not aware about presenters coming into the school? That's a problem.
In a statement to NY1, the city education department said the pamphlet was "not appropriate for the classroom" and that the school did not approve of its distribution, adding that Port Richmond High School will not work with the War Resisters League again.