By Ayala Ben-Yehuda
A 13-year-old girl was allegedly beaten up by a group of several girls at IS 25 in the Auburndale section of Flushing May 7, police said, in an incident the girl's father contended the school tried to cover up.
The 13-year-old was surrounded, pushed to the ground and then kicked and punched repeatedly by several eighth-grade girls in the schoolyard after she was dropped off some time before 8 a.m., her father Robert Gonzalez said Monday.
“They jumped her,” he said. “They punched her in the face.”
Officer Santo Elardo of the 111th Police Precinct said five 14-year-old girls were arrested in the incident in which they pulled the hair, pushed and kicked the 13-year-old.
Elardo said the other girls were charged with third-degree misdemeanor assault and released to their parents.
The officer said seven girls were involved in the attack, but Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said the incident involved only four girls, all of whom would be disciplined and were likely to be suspended.
“They hit her and bruised her,” said Feinberg.
It was unclear how the girls were being prosecuted. A spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney's office said cases involving juveniles were often handled by the family court, but a call to the court's Office of the Corporation Counsel inquiring about the case was not returned as of press time Tuesday.
Gonzalez said an assistant principal notified him of what had happened, but that neither police nor an ambulance had been called by the time he arrived.
“This guy doesn't want anybody knowing of any of the problems in the school,” said Gonzalez of IS 25's principal, Joseph Catone. “It's frustrating.” Catone did not return a call for comment.
Gonzalez said he took his daughter to North Shore Hospital in Manhasset because she had bruises on her head and was having trouble breathing from being kicked in the back and ribs. He also said the school did not call police until after he had gone to the 111th Precinct to report the incident.
“They didn't want to make it a big issue,” said Gonzalez.
Feinberg said a school safety officer had called police after calling Gonzalez.
“The district is aware of the parent's concerns,” she said, and was investigating them.
Robert Gonzalez said his daughter had been in a physical fight with another girl in January outside a bagel store across the street from IS 25, where his daughter is in seventh grade.
Gonzalez could not explain what caused that fight, for which he said his daughter and the other girl had received two days' in-house suspension.
The two girls had not fought since then, he said, but some eighth-grade friends of the girl with whom his daughter had tangled months before attacked her last week, Gonzalez said.
When he asked his daughter why she was assaulted, she only said it had to do with “girl stuff,” the father said, speculating it might involve jealousy.
“They are not as pretty as she is, so it could be about looks,” said Gonzalez, who downplayed robbery or ethnic hatred as possible motives.
His daughter is Hispanic and Italian, while her assailants were Hispanics and blacks, said Gonzalez.
Feinberg said School District 25 was investigating the attack, which she called “an unusual incident” in an otherwise safe school.
Gonzalez said the school's office staff told him budget cutbacks had reduced the number of school safety agents on campus.
“It's violent and it's brutal and somebody's got to do something to stop it,” he said of the security situation at the school.
Gonzalez said he had obtained an order of protection against his daughter's assailants, but did not know how it would be enforced when they all attended the same school.
“The other parents in the school should know how much violence goes on in that place,” said Gonzalez. “This is girls beating up girls … I'd hate to see what the guys do.”
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.