The Law Offices of Ronemus & Vilensky have been retained by the parents of a 12-year-old girl who was allegedly physically assaulted by her middle school teacher in class.
Police have charged Fatai Okunola, a 50-year-old middle school teacher, with assault after his 12-year-old student accused him of slapping her in the face at Intermediate School 219 in Foxhurst, Bronx, on Thursday, October 26th, 2017.
Police have released Okunola and he has been ordered to appear in court on Tuesday, January 16, 2018.
The student reported it to school officials, who notified her parents. She and her mother reported the incident to the police at about 3:20 pm that same Thursday afternoon, saying the alleged assault had occurred earlier that day. The student said she experienced pain and dizziness as a result of the slap.
Okunola has a history of flouting rules and of physically punishing students. In 2005, Okunola was suspended for 90 days by school officials after giving students answers to a math test he was proctoring. In 2006, the school board system suspended him without pay for making inappropriate comments to a student. And in 2014, Okunola was reprimanded by a supervisor for using corporal punishment.
The Education Department released a statement through spokesman Douglas Cohen, “These troubling alleged actions are completely unacceptable. This individual has been removed from the school and reassigned away from students pending the resolution of this criminal matter.”
Students said “Mr. O” taught science and that he was a good teacher, CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported. “Maybe the student was doing something that they wasn’t supposed to but that doesn’t give him the right to put hands on a student,” said Cody Todd, a seventh grade student who spoke to CBS2 with the permission of his mother.
CBS2’s Rapoport also spoke with Okunola via phone. He said he is very upset and adamantly denied the accusations, saying, “I did not do anything, I did not, what they are saying about me is not true.”
Okunola has been teaching at I.S. 219 since 2002.
On Friday, october 27th, New York City schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña told reporters that she is taking the allegations very seriously and an investigation was already underway. “At this point there’s a lot of conflicting reports,” Fariña said. “So we’re just going to wait until the investigation is complete. I would say nothing has been totally resolved.”
The experienced assault attorneys at the Law Offices of Ronemus & Vilensky are preparing for litigation and to get justice on behalf of a child who should have been protected and safe at school.