2006-06-23 / Community

Mom Angry At Lack Of School Supervision

An Adult Would Have Prevented Broken Jaw, She Says
By Howard Schwach

The mother of a young Rockaway teen who was beaten in the gymnasium at Middle School 53 last week is speaking out against the lack of adult supervision that she believes put her son in a vulnerable position.

Carmen Gonzalez, whose son, Eliot Arroyo Jr., was beaten and left with a broken jaw at 8:10 a.m. on Monday, June 12, says that some adult supervision in the gymnasium, where the entire eighth grade was waiting to go to homeroom, would have stopped the assault from happening.

"The dean was outside in the hallway, not in the gym. There were no adults in the gym. There never are during that time in the morning," she told The Wave. "If there were an adult in the room, this never would have happened."

The school's official report card lists 358 eighth graders at the school and an 82 percent attendance rate. That would have put nearly 300 teenagers in the room, according to statistics from the Department of Education's website.

Gonzalez said that her son and some friends were playing stickball with a cane he had borrowed from another student.

"He was holding the cane by the rubber coaster on the bottom," she said, "when he swung at a ball the coaster separated from the cane."

She says that her son, who she terms as a "frail, passive, compassionate kid" who is in a gifted class and recently won a computer award, watched the cane hit the wall where two teens were sitting nearby.

"I know that the official report says that the cane hit the boys, but it did not," she said. "Eliot went across the gym to apologize to the boys, but they both got up and started punching him."

She says that her son is home now, but that he can't eat and is in constant pain.

"He's bouncing back, but it will be a long time," she concludes.

She says the two boys who assaulted her son are still in jail. She and her son appeared in Family Court in Jamaica earlier in the week and the two teens are charged with assault in the second degree.

A spokesperson for the Family Court declined to comment on the case.

Gonzalez says that she spoke with school principal Claude Monereau at length about the case and he has promised that the two would be punished "to the fullest allowed by law."

The family has a hearing with the Department of Education next week.

A Department of Education spokesperson declined to comment on the lack of supervision in the school gym at the time of the assault.

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