A New York City school principal is is facing assault charges after he allegedly beat a seven-year-old student in what he claimed was a form of corporal punishment.
NBC reports that Machael Spencer-Edwards, principal at P.S. 202 Ernest S. Jenkyns School in East New York, was arrested Tuesday on charges of assault and acting in a manner that is harmful to a child. Spencer-Edwards told police about the March 13 incident, reportedly saying that the child, Hasheem Welch, was being inappropriate, and he was using corporal punishment to correct the behavior.
Shema McKenzie, Hasheem’s mother, told reporters the principal was angry that her son didn’t take off his hoodie in the cafeteria. Spencer-Edwards and another teacher reportedly grabbed the boy and as a result, he hit the teacher. Hasheem revealed, “I started to get crazy, I hit [the teacher]. Then [the principal] grabbed me, bring me into the staircase and kicked me, and I was crying.”
The student added that Spencer-Edwards kicked him in the face and torso. McKenzie said she called police twice that day and was told to take it up with the school. She took her son to Brookdale Hospital later that night after he complained of stomach pains and doctors confirmed that his injuries indicated he’d been assaulted. After the principal denied assaulting Hasheem, McKenzie said she “let it go” and didn’t tell the other parents. So when police called her Tuesday night to inform her the principal had been arrested, she was surprised. She doesn’t know what changed or prompted the arrest more than a month later.
Spencer-Edwards was arraigned Tuesday night and released. He’s next scheduled to appear in court June 1. A spokesman for the Department of Education says Spencer-Edwards has been removed from the school and reassigned away from students.