2006-02-09 / Top Stories

School Council Meeting Addresses Child Abuse

By Delia Bray

In light of recent cases of child abuse throughout the city, a member of the District 18 Community Education Council (CEC) suggested at Monday’s meeting that a worker from the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) be assigned to every school.

Alecia Phillip-Elie, second vice president of the council, invoked the name of Nixzmary Brown at the board’s February 6 meeting. Nixzmary, 7, who died last month, has become one of the most tragic symbols of child abuse in this city. Phillip-Elie commented that Nixzmary had a very poor school attendance record.

Phyllis F. Marino, Region 6 Director for Student Placement, Youth and Family Support Services (SPYFSS), which oversees attendance, as well as incidents of abuse, spoke to the attendees at P.S. 115. and noted that attendance records will be looked at rigorously in light of the connection between child abuse and school attendance.” She added that grades 1-5 will receive particular attention.

“Five to fifteen cases per school are attendance problems,” Marino stated. “It is mandated that every school have at least one trained recorder for suspected abuse situations. If the school has a guidance counselor, they are trained to deal with these situations. Otherwise, the principal of the school is the mandated recorder.”

She said that if a case is called into SPYFSS, it will be reviewed before the end of that day and if ACS officials are called and do not arrive at the school by day’s end, 911 can be called to protect the child. By the end of the moderately attended meeting, many questions still remained about exactly what schools can do to prevent child abuse. CEC President James Dandridge and the council have requested a copy of the Department of Education’s (DOE) 38-page document outlining the steps that should be taken to deal with suspected child abuse.

In other business, Betty Rothbart, the DOE’s Director of Health Education and Family Living, discussed the current HIV/AIDS curriculum for grades K through 12. The lessons will be divided into three areas: the nature of the disease, the transmission of the disease, and prevention. Rothbart said parents that object to the information being taught have the right to allow their children to forgo the lesson on prevention, but not the lessons on the transmission and nature of HIV/AIDS.

Rosemary Stuart was introduced as the new Deputy Superintendent of Region Six. It was further announced that there are no longer any vacancies on the CEC with the addition of the two newest members, Albert Tannis and Dorothy Sinclair.

The next CEC meeting will be held Monday, March 6 at 7PM in PS 208.

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