Elected officials are demanding answers from Department of Education Chancellor Ricard Carranza following a lack of appropriate action from leadership at a Bayside middle school regarding several reports of sexual harassment and assault.
The reports began in 2019, where students at P.S. 158 (Marie Curie Middle School) detailed disturbing incidents at the hands of fellow classmates. The incidents included an eighth-grade student who endured months of sexual harassment from her male classmate and another incident where a student forcibly put a finger in another student’s rectum.
Additionally, students at the school recently got involved in a lunchtime brawl involving 13- and 14-year-old female students. In all of the reports, students and their parents said that the school did little to help the victims.
The letter was authored by northeast Queens representatives Congresswoman Grace Meng, Councilmail Paul Vallone, Senator John Liu, Councilmen Barry Grodenchik and Peter Koo and Assemblymembers Nily Rozic and Ed Braunstein.
“These reported incidents are horrifying, and the apparent lack of action is deeply troubling and absolutely unacceptable,” said Meng. “No student should be subjected to harassment and violence at school. Our schools must be safe and welcoming environments for each and every student. When students are in school, they should be focused on learning, not worrying about their safety. Chancellor Carranza must immediately address the issues we’ve raised, and I await his reply to our letter. As the mother of two young boys who attend local public schools, I firmly believe that nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of our children.”
A chancellor-issued regulation from October 2019 required that school principals assign an official Sexual Harassment Prevention (SHP) liaison to be a resource for such matters. The liaison is responsible for receiving reports of student-to-student sexual harassment.
Parents whose children were involved in these incidents said that school administrators did not inform them about harassment and did little to reprimand the offending students.
“As a representative and a parent, I am deeply disturbed by the recent incidents that have taken place at M.S. 158,” said Vallone. “When Chancellor Carranza comes to District 26 on Thursday, we expect answers and a clear action plan for this troubled school.”
Carranza is expected to attend the Community District Education Council 26 meeting tonight, where he will conduct a town hall at M.S. 74 Nathanial Hawthorne (61-15 Oceanian St.) starting a 6:30 p.m. Learn more at cdec26.org.
“Students deserve safe and supportive environments, and schools must report all incidents and notify parents. We are looking into this further and will take any action necessary,” said DOE spokesperson Miranda Barbot in a statement last month.
View a full copy of the letter here.