Angry parents who turned out at a special Central Islip school board meeting last night said stronger action should be taken against a high school teacher accused of shoving and yelling at a student in a hallway last month.
The teacher was placed on administrative leave after the incident in mid-September.
Parents said they believe the teacher should have faced swifter and harsher punishment, and that they are worried about the safety of their children based on the district's handling of the case.
"This is ridiculous," said Sandra Wright, a mother with two children in district schools. "If this was a student, the student would have gotten arrested."
Board member Monique McCray agreed, saying, "We have students in our district who have been arrested for less."
The school board called the special meeting, held at the district's administrative offices on Wheeler Road, in part to ask questions of Suffolk Third Precinct commanding officer Insp. Robert Brown. About 40 people attended.
Brown told board members the matter was handled properly.
Suffolk police said Thursday that a report about the incident was filed, but that the student declined to press charges.
District spokeswoman Barbara LaMonica has said the incident stemmed from an accident.
"A teacher in the high school was accidentally struck by a student's hat last month when the student was walking in the corridor swinging his hat," LaMonica said in a statement last week. "It was stipulated that the teacher pushed and yelled at the student."
The teacher was not charged by the Suffolk County Police School Resource Officer, she said.
Carl Korn, spokesman for NYSUT, the state's largest teachers union, said Thursday that he wouldn't talk about the case. Korn said all educators should be treated fairly in disciplinary matters.
"Due process is the foundation of our judicial system," he said, adding that a teacher's prior record should be considered. "The system ought to take into account the many members who find themselves facing charges who have had long, meritorious careers marred by one misstep."
While Korn would not refer specifically to the Central Islip case, he said an arbitrator can help the district and employee arrive at solutions, including counseling.
With Joan Gralla