Brooklyn principal charged with assault for punching, kicking 7-year-old student who slapped school staffer

A towering Brooklyn principal was charged with assaulting an unruly 7-year-old student in a heinous attack caught on video, authorities said Wednesday.

Brooklyn principal charged with assault for punching, kicking 7-year-old student who slapped school staffer

Machael Spencer-Edwards, 42, was walking the halls of Public School 202 in East New York when he spotted the boy running around the lunchroom in a banned hoodie and hitting staffers on March 13, sources said.

The 6-foot-3, 175-pound principal dragged the child out of the cafeteria and forced him to the ground. With the boy cowering in front of him, Spencer-Edwards punched and kicked him, prosecutors said.




The second-grader, identified as Hasheem Welch, returned home that day with a swollen face and bruises on his stomach and back, his mother said.

“I feel like (Spencer-Edwards) needs to be put away,” the boy’s mother Shema McKenzie told the Daily News.

Brooklyn principal charged with assault for punching, kicking 7-year-old student who slapped school staffer

“I sent my son to school to learn. I didn’t send my son to get beat up by an adult, especially by the principal who’s supposed to be caring for these children.”

Hasheem, after leaving school, detailed the attack and claimed the principal bragged about beating up kids.

“He grabbed me and brought me to the staircase and kicked me. And then he smacked me,” said the sweet-faced boy.

“He told me that he knocked kids out.”

Cops arrested Spencer-Edwards on Tuesday following a month-long investigation.

He was arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court on several charges including misdemeanor assault and endangering the welfare of a child, authorities said.

A judge ordered Spencer-Edwards to be released without bail.




No one answered the door at the principal’s Far Rockaway home on Wednesday.

But Spencer-Edwards did provide a statement to police denying that he assaulted Hasheem, law enforcement sources said.

The principal told cops he merely grabbed the boy by the arm after the student tried to kick him, sources added.

A video obtained by police told a different story, sources said.

The footage shows the principal dragging the child out of the lunchroom and into a stairwell where he kicks him with his left foot and strikes him in the head, sources said.

Brooklyn principal charged with assault for punching, kicking 7-year-old student who slapped school staffer

Education Department spokesman Michael Aciman said Spencer-Edwards has been removed from the school.

The principal has been reassigned to a rubber room but is still drawing his salary of $139,901.

“This alleged behavior is deeply disturbing, and has no place in our schools,” Aciman said.

Some parents said they already had concerns about Spencer-Edwards. “That principal has issues,” said Israel Cofield, 31, whose two sons attend P.S. 202.

“He puts his hands on kids, talks out of line. It’s not right.”

Other parents pinned blame on Hasheem. “Mr. Edwards has been amazing to us, so we’re really upset about this situation,” said Isha Holloman, 34.

“(Hasheem) just smacked my son today,” he added. “This is not the first time he’s hit my son.”

Hasheem has had behavioral issues in school and was diagnosed with ADHD three months ago.

But his mother said she initially didn’t believe him when he returned home that day last month complaining that he was attacked by the principal.

“I kept asking him over and over, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’” McKenzie recalled.

“He was constant with his answer.”

She said Hasheem told her the principal pulled him out of the lunchroom because he was wearing a hoodie — and then assaulted him near a stairwell.

“I was thinking this is not normal. This is not right,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie, after seeing her son’s bruises, said she twice called the police but both times officers told her it was a school issue and there’s nothing they can do.

Hasheem complained about his pain, prompting his mother to bring him to the Brookdale Hospital emergency room where he was treated and released.

A day or two later, McKenzie said, she and her husband met with the principal who denied beating up Hasheem.

It was only after McKenzie’s sister wrote a letter to the Board of Education that she received a call from an NYPD detective, the mother said.

“Truthfully, if it wasn’t for my sister this would have been swept under the rug,” McKenzie said.

Sources said the NYPD’s Brooklyn Child Abuse Squad was notified about the attack on March 20, a week after the incident.

Investigators interviewed the child on March 22. The next day, they visited the school and spoke with several staffers, none of whom corroborated Hasheem’s account, sources said.

Detectives eventually found some video and asked the Education Department to release it to the NYPD. They received the damning footage on April 17, sources said.

Spencer-Edwards was arrested the following day.

In the days following the encounter, Hasheem was hit with a two-week suspension after school staffers found a box cutter in his book bag, his mother said.

Hasheem returned to school Wednesday for the first time following his suspension, his mother said.

Public School 202 has struggled for years with dismal academic outcomes and other issues.

Just one in 10 kids there can read and do math at grade level, far below the city average of roughly 40%. And a whopping 43% of kids there miss more than 20 days of class a year, more than twice the city average of 23%.

Edwards took over leadership of the school in 2013, replacing former principal Pauline Gayle-Smith. Edwards served as assistant principal at Queens Public School 132 before coming to PS 202.

Yet only 75% of teachers at the school said they thought Edwards was an effective leader in a 2016 survey, below the city average of 80%.

A sky-high 94% of the 547 students enrolled at PS 202 come from low-income homes, far above the public schools’ average of roughly 75%.

Mary Greeley News
www.marygreeley.com

 
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