By Selim Algar
Violence has spiraled at a Manhattan middle school in one of the city’s top districts this year — and administrators aren’t doing enough to stop it, a group of parents told the Post.
A string of incidents at 75 Morton, including a bus stop beating and a cafeteria body slam, drew a rare visit from Department of Education security chief Mark Rampersant on Friday, sources said.
Some parents assert that principal Valerie Leak — who is in her first year at the helm — has neglected violent incidents and relied largely on restorative justice strategies to maintain order.
Instead of suspensions and other measures, the approach has students try to peacefully hash out disputes in circles under teacher supervision.
“That’s fine, but when there are no other consequences, things are going to happen,” said one mom. “If kids know they can get away with something, they do it. That is what’s happening here.”
Conditions in the building led to a student Snapchat group named “75 Morton Fights” that shared brawl footage.
One clip shows a confrontation in a school stairwell where hair is yanked and punches are thrown. Another clip posted to the group shows a student being beaten at a nearby bus stop.
Leak sought to stop them from being circulated.
“Any student discovered sharing the video, even if they did not take it or originally post it, will be suspended,” she said of one clip to a group of parents in an email obtained by The Post.
Last month, a male 7th grader lost teeth after being body-slammed in a cafeteria. The aggressor was suspended in that case, sources said.
Some current parents said they plan to remove their kids from the Greenwich Village building over safety concerns.
Olivia Ramos said she pulled her son from 75 Morton this year after several incidents.
“Nothing was done,” she said. “They just said they would take care of it but nothing was done. There are no consequences.”
Parent Joe Sherinsky defended Leak, arguing that the first-year school leader was doing her best to acclimate kids back into a large school after COVID-19 disruptions.
“I think things have calmed throughout the year,” he said. “You have a new principal in a new role, kids in a new situation. It was rough for everyone but she has been taking the steps needed to address it.”
Some of the incidents between kids at Morton have been racially charged, Leak acknowledged in one email.
PTA president Maya Brewster said that most of the parents at the diverse school supported Leak’s performance and the school’s disciplinary approach.
“We are doing the hard work,” she said. “What is not acceptable is having to constantly battle with a community of people who do not support it.”
Leak told parents Friday in a note that “while this is a tough moment for our community, know that we are Morton Strong and will get through this together.”
The DOE said Friday that it would be placing additional personnel at 75 Morton to address safety concerns — including more school aides, paraprofessionals and social workers.
“Our schools must be sanctuaries for our young people as they grow academically and socially, and our school staff work hand-in-hand every day with outstanding School Safety Agents to provide safe, supportive environments for every student, and will continue to do so,” said DOE spokesperson Jenna Lyle.
Read on the NY Post website at https://nypost.com/2022/02/04/parents-feel-neglected-at-middle-school-beset-by-violence/