Charge teacher and aide allowed fight

Usually kids are discouraged from fighting in school, but not here, not this time.

A teacher and an aide assigned to Public School 65, the Raymond York Elementary School, in Ozone Park were arraigned over the weekend on child endangerment charges for allowing two fourth-grade students to wrestle in the classroom – which resulted in one child receiving a split lip and the other suffering swelling and bruising to his head.

“When two fourth graders became involved in a verbal dispute, their teacher allegedly told one of the students that he should ‘take it out’ on another student,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “When parents send their children off to school, their teachers have an obligation to provide a safe environment for them.”

Teacher Joseph Gullotta, 29, of Williston Park, L.I., and para-professional Abraham Fox, 43, of Merrick, L.I. were arraigned on Saturday, January 30 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Barry Kron, who released the two men on their own recognizance and ordered them to return to court on February 25.

If convicted, the defendants each face up to one year in jail.

According to the criminal charges, Tomas Rivera, 10, was having a dispute inside the classroom with another student between 9 and 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, January 28 when Gullotta told him that he should instead take it out on nine-year-old Justin Stokel. When the two boys began grabbing each other’s arms and shoulders and wrestling, Gullotta allegedly told a female student to close the door and instructed the other students to back up. During the wrestling match, Rivera’s head struck Stokel’s mouth, resulting in a laceration and bleeding to Stokel’s lower lip and swelling and bruising to the top and back of Rivera’s head.

It is further alleged that though Fox was present in the classroom during the incident he did not attempt to stop the two boys from wrestling, nor did he assist them after they were injured. Despite the students’ injuries and Fox’s observation that Stokel might need stitches, said the DA, neither Gullotta nor Fox offered either student an opportunity to go to the school nurse until two school periods later, at approximately 11 a.m., when Gullotta allowed Stokel to go alone to the nurse’s office.

At that time, Gullotta allegedly instructed Stokel to tell the nurse that someone had dropped a pencil and that Rivera’s head accidently collided with his (Stokel’s) mouth when they both bent down to pick up the pencil.

As allegedly instructed Stokel told the nurse the story and voiced concern about his friend Rivera who complained that his head ached. It is alleged that the nurse told Stokel to go back to the classroom and get Rivera. This time, according to the DA, Gullotta escorted Rivera to the nurse’s office and instructed him to tell the same story that he had told Stokel.

The incident became known when the parent of one of the students involved in the incident overheard them talking about it.

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