2006-06-16 / Front Page

Assault Leaves Student With Broken Jaw

By Howard Schwach

An eighth-grader suffered a broken jaw Monday during gym class at Middle School 53 in Far Rockaway, when an object he was swinging slipped from his hands and hit two students who then beat him up.

The victim, Elliot Arroyo, 14, was swinging "his cane" when it "accidentally flew out of his hands, hitting [the two classmates]," police said. The classmates reacted by punching Arroyo in the face, breaking his jaw in two places.

Arroyo's father, who gave The Wave permission to use his son's name, disagrees with the official account and alleges that the incident was fueled by bias. He told The Wave his son was not swinging a cane but was playing stickball when a bat slipped from his hand.

"The bat hit the wall nearby two toughs who didn't think it was funny," the elder Arroyo told The Wave. "They came over to him and called him a 'Punk-assed Puerto Rican." Then, he says, each one punched his son once in the jaw.

Arroyo was rushed to St. John's Hospital in Far Rockaway, where he was stabilized. He was then transferred to the Schneider's Children's Hospital at Long Island Jewish Hospital for specialized treatment. He remained in the hospital at press time.

The identity of the two classmates, who were arrested for misdemeanor assault and issued juvenile reports for family court, is being withheld because of their age. They were not charged with bias crimes.

"They called him racial names," he said. "This was a hate crime."

The city's Department of Education, however, does not see it the same way.

A spokesperson for the DOE told The Wave on Tuesday that there was no bias involved in the assault.

"The school is still contemplating suspension of the two youths," the spokesperson said when asked what kind of action the DOE would take.

The senior Arroyo thinks that the punishment should be much harsher.

"My son is a small, fragile kid," he said. "He is about 97 pounds, just about five feet tall. The two kids who assaulted him were big, near six feet. They called him racist names. They should be punished for what they did."

On Tuesday, Arroyo indicated that he planned action against the DOE and the school.

"Where were the teachers when this was going on," he asked. "Why didn't they do something to help my son?"

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