CENTER MORICHES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A teacher who says she went out of her way to help a grieving student is being punished for her actions.
Janice Graf, a high school art teacher was removed from her teaching post and reassigned to administrative desk duty.READ MORE: Who Is Cuomo's Possible Successor, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul?
She took high school senior Maddy Ziminski out for a cup of hot chocolate and warm conversation during the school day. It’s against Center Moriches School District Policy to take students off grounds and the high school has a closed campus.
“I was distraught and I needed help. My whole life I was told to trust teachers and that’s exactly what I did,” Maddy told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports.
The 17-year-old was in crisis over the recent death of two loved ones. She said she first went to two high school counselors, but got little help. She said she then left school with her beloved art teacher with a parent’s permission.
“She needed someone to talk to. She was very distraught. I felt she was in crisis,” Graf told CBS2.
The student’s mother, Joanne Ziminski, said that she believes the teacher was helping her daughter.READ MORE: Gov. Murphy Reflects On All He And People Of New Jersey Have Learned During The Coronavirus Pandemic
“I was just so grateful that Mrs. Graf was there for her. This helped her, her art helped her, it was her therapy,” Joanne Ziminski said.
Maddy’s mother thinks Graf did what a dedicated teacher should do, going above and beyond her job. The District doesn’t see it that way. After 30 years of service, she is now banned from school.
Her attorney said her pension and benefits are in jeopardy.
“This is a no good deed goes unpunished type of scenario. She is set to retire in July and she’s been put out to pasture by the Board of Education,” Vesselin Mitev, Graf’s attorney, told CBS2.
Generations of students packed a school board meeting to fight for Graf’s reinstatement, but the board wouldn’t address the issue, citing personnel privacy.
Graf said she just wants to be back in the classroom with her students where she feels she is needed.MORE NEWS: Former Aide Refuses To Accept Cuomo's Apology Amid Sexual Harassment Probe; Gov Stays Silent To Reporters' Questions
The district did not respond to repeated requests for comment.