2009-01-16 / Top Stories

Parents Charge PS 42 Para With Assault

By Howard Schwach

The parents of Eric Vargas say that he was assaulted by the paraprofessional in his special education classroom. The parents of Eric Vargas say that he was assaulted by the paraprofessional in his special education classroom. The parents of an ungraded emotionally challenged youngster have filed a police report charging a paraprofessional at PS 42 in Arverne with assaulting their son.

The school is located at 488 Beach 66 Street and houses students from pre-kindergarten to the eighth grade, as well as special education students.

Eric Vargas, five years old, was assigned to a class with only 12 students, supervised by a teacher and a paraprofessional.

"Eric was running around the room with some other students, and Ms. Harris, the paraprofessional assigned to the class just grabbed him by the neck and pinched him hard," John Vargas, the youth's parent, told The Wave. "She just lost it because the teacher was absent and there was a substitute in the room, and the kids were a little wild."

Vargas said that his son had been having problems with both the classroom teacher and the para for some time.

Admitting that the young boy is "hyperactive" and "needs lots of supervision," Vargas believes that the two were not properly teaching his son.

"He was constantly taken from the classroom, constantly sent home early," the father said. "He needs more than other children and he needs more from the school, and they are not providing [what he needs]."

On Monday, January 12, however, he says, the para overreacted and hurt his son.

Vargas pulled back his son's shirt to reveal bruises and scratches on his neck, marks he says were caused by Harris.

The parents left the school after seeing their son's neck and went right to the police station, they said, filing an assault report against Harris.

Riva Madden, the school's principal, said that the incident was never reported to her and that a call from the Department of Education for comment was "the first time she heard about it."

Margie Feinberg, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, told The Wave on Tuesday that Harris had been reassigned and that Madden and investigators were looking into the incident.

Madden declined to comment, deferring to the Department of Education for comment.

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