They say that it takes a village to raise a child, but one Bronx family would prefer that the staff at Public School 209 would just do their jobs. On two different occasions, 6-year-old Ethan Gomez was interrogated by an after-school teacher and then the principal to find out if people he lived with used drugs in his presence. His mother is fighting the accusations, but now the little boy wants nothing to do with his school.
The First Incident
As reported by the New York Daily News, the first incident occurred in late October when the teacher approached the little boy and asked him if anyone was using drugs around him at home. She then began to sniff his clothes while other students ridiculed him. They joined the teacher in smelling his clothes, according to his mom Ariel Gomez. His aunt, Sarae Gomez, was shocked by what she heard.
“I went to pick Ethan up from school,” Sarae said. “And he told me [the teacher] asked if there was drugs being used around him or in front of him, and he said no.”
The Second Incident
Ariel wasn’t alarmed initially, but future incidents prompted her to file a report with the Department of Education and reach out to Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN). Following the first incident, Ethan had to stay home sick with asthma the next week for three consecutive days. Despite the fact that Ethan’s grandfather spoke with school staff about the little boy’s illness, a truant officer was sent to their home on Nov. 1.
The Last Straw
When the Gomez sisters went to the school that very same day, an assistant principal told them that the principal was too busy for a meeting but promised to pass their concerns along. Things, however, quickly went from bad to worse. The following day, Ethan told his mom that the principal had questioned him about drug use as well.
“He tells me the principal asked him if anyone was using drugs in the house, and asked him about the questions the other teacher asked him,” Ariel said. “He said he was scared, uncomfortable, his heart was racing.”
NAN National Crisis Director Rev. Kevin McCall said this series of events demonstrates a lack of morals, ethics, and sensitivity to the needs of children. All of these qualities are essential in any learning environment.
“Questioning a first-grader, who is sent to school to learn, shows that the Department of Education needs to be taught morally,” McCall said.
Ethan’s mother and aunt, accompanied by McCall, were scheduled to meet with the school principal and administrators on Monday. They fear for his safety and ability to learn in the kind of environment that exists at P.S. 209. Pending the outcome of the meeting, would you send your child back to this school? What would you do?