Joe Malinconico, North Jersey, January 23, 2015
A ninth-grader at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson was arrested Friday and charged with assaulting a teacher in a classroom.
The attack, captured on video, shows the teen slamming the 62-year-old educator to the floor in front of other students in an effort to get his cellphone back.
City school officials confirmed that criminal charges have been filed against the student, who has been suspended from school.
Someone in the classroom recorded the assault, which officials say took place at about 1 pm on Tuesday, and the video has been posted on YouTube.
David Cozart, principal of operations at JFK, said the incident happened during a physics class.
He said the teacher apparently confiscated the phone–which belonged to the assailant–from another student. The principal said students are allowed to use cellphones in class for academic purposes, but staff may take the devices and return them at the end of the day if students use them for other reasons.
“What strikes me is that the teacher never even defended himself,” said Lee McNulty, a retired JFK teacher who has been vocal recently with criticism about violence and disorder in the high school. “That just shows how much teachers are afraid of losing their job.”
“It’s troubling that in our society today students think that inside a school they can put their hands on each other and teachers as well,” said Jonathan Hodges, a veteran school board member. “I went online trying to find this video and I found numerous videos of teachers being attacked by their students.”
In press interviews last year, McNulty called JFK a chaotic place where fights were common.
[Editor’s Note: According to this site, JFK High School in Patterson is 59 percent Hispanic, 29 percent black, and 7 percent white.]