Photo courtesy of Renee Di Re
P.S./I.S. 266 in Glen Oaks.

The parents of a Glen Oaks student say their son has been harassed by bullies all year long, and that the school hasn’t done enough to hold anyone accountable.

Renee Di Re, whose son is a third-grade student at P.S./I.S. 266, says the bullying has been going on since October 2016. A group of boys in the same grade as her son have physically and verbally harassed the young student on a consistent basis, she told QNS. Months later, Di Re continued, the problems persist, and the school has not followed the Department of Education (DOE) regulations in reporting the harassment.

According to the Schools Chancellor’s regulations, any staff member who witnesses or is provided with information regarding student-to-student discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying in the city’s schools must report the allegation within one school day and file a written report within two school days of the oral report.

Most troubling to Di Re, who also serves as the school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) president, was when her son made verbal suicide threats in front of administration on two consecutive days in early February. Di Re said the school only filed a report about the second incident on March 21, six weeks after that threat was made. She was unable to find out if the first suicide threat was ever reported.

Di Re and her husband have written to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and have not yet received a response. The parents have also written to Lori Stein Butera, Family Leadership Coordinator for District 26.

“My son feels very isolated and mentally drained because of this, but yet the school refuses to call it bullying. They address it as kids picking on each other,” Di Re wrote in a letter sent on March 1 to Butera. “I am not asking for special treatment. I just want my son to feel safe and happy when he goes to school.”

On March 20, Di Re met with members of the District 26 team.

“All we wanted at this point was [for them] to admit they did not follow regulations,” the parent said. “They would not do that.”

For Di Re, this is a citywide problem much larger than her son’s experience. She has recently taken steps to become a part of a class-action suit filed against the DOE last year. The group alleges that the city has not been properly tracking instances of bullying and failed to protect children from violence and bullying, according to reports.

A report published by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last August suggested that the DOE was under-reporting incidents of bullying in its schools. An audit published in 2015 by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli suggested the same.

In her most recent letter to the school’s principal, Christina Catalano, who took on the position at the school this year, Di Re mentioned that she was considering taking legal action. According to the concerned parent, it was only then the principal reached out to arrange a meeting.

“The problem is, everyone else is covering up for everyone else, and the DOE is ignoring the parent,” Di Re said. “The lack of respect to answer; admit you messed up. We’ll address it and move on.”

“The school is dedicated to providing all students with a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment,” DOE spokesperson Toya Holness said. “We take reports of bullying seriously, and the school investigated and addressed these incidents. Reporting is a requirement and we are working with the family to ensure appropriate follow-up action is taken.”


Join The Discussion

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Renee Di Re May 26, 2017 / 01:53PM
I don't know what family the DOE is working with but it is definitely not mine. They have in no way addressed the fact that the school failed to follow protocol andd chancellor's regulations.
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Alyssa Chang April 12, 2018 / 08:12AM
Is there a follow-up to this?

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wansor May 31, 2017 / 22:31PM
test post

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