QUEENS — A Queens teacher who said she was harassed and injured by rowdy students so badly that she had to undergo back and knee surgeries, received a $125,000 settlement, according to city officials and published reports.
Kathy Perez, a teacher at MS 72 Catherine and Count Basie in Rochdale Village, suffered five herniated discs in her back and two in her neck, according to the New York Post, which first reported the story. She also had a torn meniscus in her knee.
The injuries were a consequence of two incidents at the school. In the first case, which happened shortly after she began teaching there in September 2011, she was stomped on by students running around the classroom. Eighteen months later, she said she was shoved to the floor by a teenage girl.
According to the Post, Perez was also called “white b---h,” and students reportedly tossed rocks at her and threatened that she would “get shot.”
The school has struggled with safety issues. According to school surveys, last year only 57 percent of students at the school felt safe in the hallways, bathrooms, locker rooms and cafeteria, compared to the citywide average of 84 percent.
Perez alleged that the administration ignored the incidents and her complaints so she filed two lawsuits against the Department of Education — one in 2012 and and another in 2013 — alleging personal injury in state court, followed by a civil rights case in federal court, Perez told the Post.
In April, she settled for $125,000.
“Settling the matter was in the best interest of the city,” a spokesman for the city's Law Department said Monday.
Perez first started working for the New York City public school system in September 2002, according to the DOE.
She currently works in the Absent Teacher Reserve, where she said she was placed after the DOE denied two safety transfers that she said she had requested.