‘Fight Club’ at P.S. 65?


     QUEENS (CN) – A student says a teacher and a classroom aide goaded him to fight another student in a closed classroom in an elementary school and gathered their classmates around to cheer them on.

     While the student was receiving counseling for this, his father says, he told a therapist that the teacher had groped him and shown him “improper and sexual photographs of girls/women in bathing suits,” according to the complaint in New York County Court.
     T.R., a student younger than 14, says the fight occurred on Jan. 28, in a special reading class at Queens-based elementary school P.S. 65. He claims his teacher, Joseph Gullotta, and paraprofessional Abraham Fox set up the fight.
     According to the complaint, Gullotta “organized a fist fight between the infant plaintiff and another infant student, telling the students to close the classroom doors and to enter into a circle around the combatants; thereafter, defendants Joseph Gullotta and Abraham Fox goaded the combatants to fight with each other and cause the surrounding students to cheer the participants.”
     Both students were hurt in the fight, but Gullotta didn’t let either of them go to the nurse, until the other student’s bleeding did not stop, the complaint states.
     When he did let them leave, he told them in “a private conversation … to tell their parents, the school nurse and other personnel that they had ‘bumped their heads’ into each other while they were both bending down to pick up a pencil,” the complaint states.
     When administrators found out about this incident, Gullotta and Fox were “reassigned and/or fired,” according to the complaint.
     T.R. says he was “held up to ridicule, scorn, embarrassment and insult by the remaining staff members at P.S. 65 and other children who had been advised that the infant plaintiff was the cause of the firing and/or reassignment.”
     After “a few days” of this ridicule, T.R. missed school for the rest of the year and “is now compelled to be home schooled by his parents because he fears coming into a school environment,” his father says.
     T.R. says he graduated on a “principal’s excuse” and was “ostracized” from the school.
     After T.R. began receiving therapy for the incident, he told the therapist that on about five occasions toward the end of 2009, Gullotta “placed his hand or hands on the buttocks of the infant plaintiff and attempted to put his hand or hands on the crotch of the infant plaintiff,” the complaint states.
     According to the complaint, T.R. also told his therapist that Gullotta showed him “improper and sexual photographs of girls/women in bathing suits” and asked him “whether or not he thought these bodies were ‘sexy’ and whether they had a ‘tight ass.'”
     The student and his father seek punitive damages against Gullotta, Fox, New York City and the Board of Education, for assault, battery and negligence.
     They are represented by Todd Greenberg with Addabbo & Greenberg.

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