Harlem Charter School Investigated for Abusing Special Education Students

By Ben Fractenberg on May 20, 2010 7:19am | Updated on May 20, 2010 7:18am

There were instances of student abuse at Harlem's Opportunity Charter School, according to a report from The Special Commissioner of Investigation released on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 .
There were instances of student abuse at Harlem's Opportunity Charter School, according to a report from The Special Commissioner of Investigation released on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 .
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By Ben Fractenberg

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — Staffers at Harlem charter school punched special education students, put them in headlocks and dragged them by the hair, according to a new report by school investigators.

Students at the Opportunity Charter School, on West 113th Street, endured a pattern of aggressive behavior by school faculty that went unreported by administrative staff, stated a report from the Special Commissioner of Investigation.

The report alleges that school directors Betty Marsella and Leonard Goldberg and Administrative Director Brett Fazio “failed to adequately supervise staff and follow school policy” during the 2008-20009 school year, the New York Post reported.

The report goes on to say that directors “minimized” or “excluded” incidents of physical interventions with students in a probe conducted by the school. The school-led investigation found no evidence of staff abuse, the Post reported.

"We just feel that when you have a school where one of the things you do as a matter of course is subdue students, then you have to be very careful about that,” Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon told the Post.

The charter school for special education students was opened in 2004 for kids in grades 6 through 12. There are currently 420 enrolled students, according to the school’s website.

There has been no official response yet from the charter school.

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