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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Special Ed Horrors Send N.Y. Parents to Court

NASSAU, N.Y. (CN) - A special-education teacher forced one student to masturbate in front of the class, gave another a lap dance, threatened to hog-tie the children, stomped on their feet with her stilettos to shut them up and turned her classroom bathroom into a time-out zone, the moms of five "severely disabled" teens claim in court.

The April 1 petition to file a late notice of claim in Nassau County Supreme Court is the first step by attorney Gerald Misk to sue Long Beach Public Schools on behalf of five children.

"They're all non-communicative," Misk said of his teenage clients in an interview Tuesday morning, noting that they all either have "severe autism," Down syndrome or both.

Long Beach Public Schools suspended the allegedly abusive teacher at the heart of the Friday filing, Lisa Weitzman, in the fall of 2014.

Misk's petition alleges conduct dating back to at least 2011, on behalf of four male and one female client, ranging in age from 14 to 18.

In an attempt to cover up Weitzman's behavior, Misk said Long Beach Public Schools administrators "outright lied" to parents.

"It's a failure not just by the teacher but by the whole school district," he said in an interview.

Long Beach Public Schools is the sole respondent to Misk's petition, which notes that the allegations against Weitzman only came to light because she requested public access to the discharge hearing that began against her on March 4.

"The allegations against Ms. Weitzman include: ... spraying Lysol and other deodorants on children; encouraging a male student to masturbate in front of his other classmates; ... stomping on the feet of children with her high heels; [and] use of drugs during teachers' lunch breaks."

Weitzman also forced children to miss school by making them eat food that makes them sick; restrained the children by their wrists and ankles with zip ties; pushed children against walls; and verbally abusing them, according to the petition.

The claims allegedly support eight charges against Weitzman for her dismissal.

"Obviously, they are unable to protect their own legal rights and therefore should be excused for failing to file a notice of claim," Misk's 11-page petition states.

"These unfortunate victims were simply unable to tell anybody about their abuse," the filing continues.

Misk's petition says the school district set up a fact-finding team that "apparently confirmed the allegations" against Weitzman.

Though at least 11 teacher's assistants filed complaints about Weitzman over the past seven years, none of the 11 complaints were ever investigated, according to the petition.

That changed in November 2015 when the former head of the teacher's union fired off a letter to school board president, Roy Lester, demanding action, the petition states.

Misk says state Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky apparently passed that letter to the Nassau County District Attorney's Office.

While the district's eight alleged charges against Weitzman mostly track the conduct Misk described, Charge Six accuses the teacher of having "performed a 'lap dance' upon a student."

Charge Seven says she "duct taped gloves on the hands of a student so he would stop playing with his feces."

The formal charges don't include the allegation of forced masturbation.

Misk's petition says the proceedings are still underway, and expected to encompass at least 15 more days of testimony.

The school district did not return a request for comment Tuesday morning.

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