A Buffalo teacher who was assaulted by a student has been placed on paid administrative leave following the incident last week.
The 14-year-old freshman from McKinley High School was arrested by police and suspended from school, but the teacher also was placed on leave pending further investigation by the school district, according to officials from the district and teachers union.
Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore was incredulous that the teacher would be placed on leave.
"He was not told why," Rumore said. "He was just told they're going to do an investigation and that he can't talk to any district employees."
"Talk about punishing the victim," Rumore said.
School district officials, meanwhile, believe there may be more to the story.
"Unfortunately, what is being portrayed in the media is incomplete and, therefore, inaccurate," said Elena Cala, a spokeswoman for the Buffalo Public Schools. "The district will issue a full statement and any further disciplinary measures for the involved parties when our investigation is completed."
The altercation on Thursday apparently started when the teacher took away the student’s cellphone because he was using it to listen to music during class, Rumore said. The incident escalated in the hallway outside the classroom, where the student allegedly threw a key and doorstop at the teacher, according to a statement from the teacher. School security got involved, and the teacher called the student’s mother.
At some point, the student allegedly tried to grab his phone from the teacher's pocket and slammed the teacher over a chair causing cuts and bruises to the teacher's back, union leaders said. While being escorted out, the teenager threatened to kill security officers and administrators, according to the teacher's statement.
Police were called and charged the student with second-degree assault, a felony, and second-degree harassment, a noncriminal violation.
Issues between faculty and administrators at McKinley have been brewing since last school year, which prompted teachers at the school to take a vote of “no confidence” against principal Marck Abraham.
"This has been a continuing problem for a year," Rumore said. "The teachers have complained about the lack of discipline at the school, but nothing has been done."