NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn elementary school principal is facing charges, accused of assaulting a 7-year-old student.
Police say Machael Spencer-Edwards, 42, principal of P.S. 202 in East New York, was caught on video taking the child from the school cafeteria last month for breaking the dress code.
Seven-year-old Hasheem Welch walked out of school Wednesday afternoon with his mom smiling for the cameras. It was a stark contrast from how frightened he says he was when his own principal allegedly attacked him.
The boy’s mother, Shema McKenzie, said her son admitted to her that he was wearing a hoodie, which is against school policy, and tried to run from the principal, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.
“He said Mr. Edwards came and took me out the lunch room and brought me to the staircase,” McKenzie said. “He said ‘he kicked me’ and ‘he smacked me’ and he told me that ‘he knocked kids out.'”
“He hit me hard and I was crying,” Hasheem told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.
Hasheem says it all started in the lunchroom on the afternoon of March 13. He says Edwards asked him to remove his hoodie but he “forgot.” He says the principal then brought him to another teacher. The second grader admits to hitting her — then says the principal took him into the stairwell.
“I hit her, then he grabbed me, and swung me and brung me into the staircase and kicked me and then he smacked me,” Hasheem said.
“He lifted up his shirt, his stomach was green and blue,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie says her son told her what happened when he got home from school. She says she called the police, met with the principal, and her sister later filed a complaint on her behalf with the Department of Education.
“I was very furious,” she said, “very, very upset.”
Police say they subpoenaed the surveillance video from the school stairwell and just received it Monday. It has not yet been publically released, but investigators say it confirms the attack took place.
Edwards was arrested around noon Tuesday for the assault that allegedly took place last month.
The DOE said Edwards has been removed from the school and reassigned away from students.
“This alleged behavior is deeply disturbing, and has no place in our schools,” the department said in a statement. “We are providing additional guidance and ongoing support to the school community.”
At dismissal Wednesday, several parents and students said they were surprised by the allegations.
“I thought he was a good principal,” one student told CBS2.
“He’s a good man, really, a very good principal,” school mother Esther Yeribo said. “I’m shocked to hear this. I’m actually shaking.”
McKenzie says Hasheem has ADHD and has had some behavioral issues such as not following directions. He just came back to school today following a suspension, claiming someone planted a box cutter in his bookbag during the investigation into the principal.
One mother claims Hasheem attacked her son Wednesday.
“He’s been an issue bothering my son on an almost daily basis and I’m tired of it,” Isha Hollman told CBS2. “The principal is amazing.”
McKenzie said her son is afraid to go back to P.S. 202, and wants to transfer him to a different school.
“He don’t feel safe going to school,” she said.
Edwards is charged with assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child.
He has been released without bail.