Shema McKenzie sent her son Hasheem Welch to elementary school on March 13 expecting that he’d get some knowledge placed in his head, but not that he’d return home with bruises on his body. But that’s what apparently happened and authorities are saying a school principal is to blame.
Machael Spencer-Edwards, 42, is facing charges of assault in the alleged beating of 7-year-old Hasheem, who prosecutors say punched and kicked him for being disobedient. He went home with bruises on his face, stomach and back.“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,” the boy’s mother, Shema McKenzie, told the New York Daily News.
Hasheem, who is in second grade at P.S. 202 in the East New York section of Brooklyn, was running around the lunchroom with a hoodie on his head, which is against the rules, hitting staffers, according to the paper. He said he had forgotten to remove it. His mother said when the boy ran into one of the staffers, Spencer-Edwards grabbed him, took him out of the lunchroom and into a stairwell and started to abuse him. She later took pictures of his bruises.
McKenzie said that when she and her husband came to the school to confront Spencer-Edwards about the allegations, he denied it. “We felt he was lying,” she said. “Also in the meeting, we made Hasheem speak and Hasheem said, ‘you took me to the staircase and you smaked me and you kicked me.’ ”
After a monthlong police investigation, Spencer-Edwards was arrested on Tuesday and arraigned on assault charges, he was ordered released without bail. He told police that he did grab Hasheem’s arm, but only after the boy tried to kick him, the Daily News reported. But a surveillance video shows him dragging the boy and abusing him as he describes.
“This alleged behavior is deeply disturbing, and has no place in our schools. This principal has been removed from the school and reassigned away from students,” the New York City Department of Education said in a statement. “We are providing additional guidance and ongoing support to the school community.”
Meanwhile, some parents said they liked the job Spencer-Edwards had been doing with the children, and actually said it was Hasheem that had problems. “Mr. Edwards has been amazing to us, so we’re really upset about this situation,” said Isha Holloman told the Daily News. “(Hasheem) just smacked my son today. This is not the first time he’s hit my son.”
McKenzie acknowledged that Hasheem had been suspended a few days after the incident because a box cutter was found in his bookbag. According to the Daily News, the boy has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
But other parents were dismayed and said Spencer-Edwards was the one with issues. “That principal has issues,” said Israel Cofield, who has two sons attending the school. “He puts his hands on kids, talks out of line. It’s not right.”