The city’s school district has terminated a cafeteria monitor accused of throwing a bottle at a student at the School 21 lunchroom, according to district officials.
Lois Booker, who has been working for the Paterson Public Schools for nine years, was terminated following an investigation into the March 8th, 2017 incident, said district officials. She allegedly threw a bottle at the head of 7-year-old Justin Townsend, according to a news broadcast on PIX11.
The news broadcast shows a footage from a surveillance camera that appears to show the cafeteria monitor throwing a bottle. The boy is seen holding his head as his friends rise from the table. He is then seen wiping tears from his eyes.
Shree Martin, the boy’s mother, claims in the broadcast the school’s principal JoAnne Riviello was slow to act. However, Terry Corallo, spokeswoman for the Paterson Public Schools, said the district thoroughly investigated the incident and took swift action.
“This incident was thoroughly investigated which led to the termination,” said Corallo on Tuesday morning. “Additionally, the student has been transferred to another school at the parent’s request.”
Martin said she transferred her three boys from School 21 to School 13. She said her other son Jordon Townsend was badly bullied at the school. And her third son Jonathan Townsend was wrongly suspended for three days for tapping his friend on the shoulder to say goodbye, she said.
No charges have been filed against Booker, said district officials. The state’s Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit conducted the investigation into the incident, said district officials. Martin said she has filed a police report. She said the police officer needed the name and address of the school employee, but the district refused to provide her that information.
“I couldn’t file criminal charges against Ms. Booker because I didn’t have her full name and they wouldn’t release her address,” said Martin. She said she intends to file charges against the monitor.
Corallo said the cafeteria monitor was terminated on March 30th, 2017. She said the investigation into the incident involved interviewing 18 students and collecting written statements.
Martin said school officials were little interested in taking action against the staff member until she began contacting high ranking officials at the district. She said she also went before the Board of Education to inform board members of what happened to her boy at the lunchroom. She said she also contacted the state’s child protective services to tell them of the incident.
School 21 is one of the district’s most troubled schools. For example, in early 2015, a student punched a security guard in the face. State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans late last school year put in place a reorganization plan to make improvements at the school.
“If I had walked away, she wouldn’t have been fired. I had to push,” said Martin. She said if the monitor remained she will have very likely done this to other children at the school.
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This report was updated on June 1st, 2017 at 10 a.m.