Beth Fertig is the contributing editor for education, covering the New York City public school system for WNYC on air and online at SchoolBook.org. She has covered education in the city for more than 15 years. Beth is the author of Why cant u teach me 2 read? Three Students and a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test (FSG Books) which grew out of a radio series on the low graduation rate for special education students. Follow her @bethfertig.
Investigators Exonerate School in Fatal Stabbing Case
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 12:40 PM
An investigation released Wednesday found the teen who allegedly stabbed a classmate to death at a Bronx middle school never told anyone at the school about being bullied or harassed by the stabbing victim.
The investigation into the June 18 incident outside I.S. 117 was conducted by the Special Commissioner of Investigation for New York City's public schools, Richard Condon. He acknowledged his team was not able to interview the family of Estevez who is facing charges of second-degree manslaughter.
The report concluded that even though it couldn't establish any bullying or harassment of 14-year-old Estevez by classmate Timothy Crump at the school, there may have been bullying elsewhere.
"Almost all of the people we spoke to who interacted with Noel said that he never said anything about being bullied," Condon said. Investigators interviewed two school safety agents and 20 staff members at the school.
However, two individuals did acknowledge hearing that Noel was bullied although details were vague.
According to the investigation, both Estevez and Crump, also 14, were chronically absent from school. A family assistant at the school, Parbatty Singh, had some contact with Estevez's family about the problem during April. She said she spoke to the boy's Aunt Maria, who said Estevez told his mother he was being harassed at the school by some students.
Singh said the aunt never told her who was harassing the boy, and that she personally had subsequent conversations with Estevez in which he never said he was being harassed or bullied.
The school notified the Administration for Children's Services about Estevez's truancy. An ACS worker, Irma Brown, met with the boy and his mother in May and said he reported being harassed and followed by children to and from school. The ACS worker told investigators the boy's mother attempted to obtain a police report in order to get a safety transfer from the school, but that the NYPD wouldn't give a report because no one was hurt.
According to the report, Principal Delise Jones said the school did not receive a transfer request after Estevez returned to school in June, following his release from a psychiatric center. A meeting was held with the boy's father on June 16, two days before the stabbing.
Brown also said the boy never told anyone at the school about being harassed, but that she told a guidance counselor about these concerns. She was attempting to obtain a housing transfer for the boy and his mother, who had recently been released from jail, and was also seeking home instruction for the boy since he was chronically absent.
The guidance counselor and the family worker disagreed about these details when interviewed by investigators, with the guidance counselor saying it seemed the boy was harassed by someone in the neighborhood, not from the school.
School staff told investigators that Crump rarely came to school after January of this year.
The investigation was shared with the Department of Education; so far there has been no public response.
I.S. 117 has been a low-performing school for years. About one third of its students reported in their annual school survey that they did not feel safe at school.