via EAG News: ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Police allege a Allentown high schooler pushed a teacher down a flight of bleachers at a recent assembly honoring NFL great Andre Reed, marking at least the third serious incident of student violence in the district in recent weeks.
Allentown School District officials have refused to discuss the details of the incident with the media, but issued an email to school board members five days after a junior at Dieruff High School allegedly pushed a teacher down the bleachers during a prep rally last Friday, LehighValleyLive.com reports.
Superintendent Russell Mayo sent the email Wednesday to inform board members the student involved was suspended for 10 days, but did not divulge many details on the teacher’s injuries, or other important factors in the ordeal.
“As a board member, I would have liked to have known what was going on in a little more timely fashion,” board member Ce-Ce Gerlach told the news site.
“In a time of uncertainty, communication should be increased so rumors don’t fly. I don’t think that’s been done in this case. In some ways, the district has created the environment for rumors to fly, because there aren’t any answers.”
The incident occurred at the conclusion of a pep rally honoring Dieruff alum Andre Reed, a NFL receiver who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. District spokeswoman Kim Golden-Benner said officials notified board members Saturday of the ongoing investigation into whether the teacher fell or was pushed.
Investigators later determined a female student was involved.
Assistant police chief Bill Lake told Lehigh Valley Live the investigation continues as officers review video footage of the rally and interview students who witnessed the fall.
The investigation follows a massive student brawl outside of one of the district’s other high schools – William Allen High School – on Oct. 29 that produced a video of students fighting a female police officer sent in to quell the melee. Several students posted videos of that incident online, and several students were arrested and charged as a result.
Days later, another fight at Trexler Middle School convinced school officials to increase police presence on campus, according to the news site.
Gerlach believes the delay and lack of information provided by school officials during the most recent incident – especially considering the recent problems with student violence – is unacceptable.
“Whether she fell or got knocked down, the fact is a teacher got injured in our school,” she said. “To me that’s one of the utmost importance and has to be dealt with immediately, regardless of the weekend.”
“It was an update, which I appreciated,” Gerlach said of the Wednesday email. “But questions are still out there. Is the teacher OK? Are there cameras? Did kids stomp her?”
The teacher’s husband, Gino Matzo, filled in some of those details for the Allentown Morning Call.
He said “that after the student shoved his wife to the floor from near the top of the bleachers, other students kicked and punched her, and yelled profanities at her,” according to the site.
“She suffered bruises on most of her body, he said.”
School officials alleged in the Wednesday email “The student’s statement said the teacher gripped her first and as a result the student pushed her down the stairs,” but Matzo contends the student is lying.
Matzo said his wife asked a group of students to wait and allow the exit to clear before heading down, but when she turned her back she was shoved down and beaten. And instead of calling an ambulance, district officials ushered the teacher to the nurse’s office, where she was joined by Dieruff Principal Susan Bocian.
The teacher eventually went to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg, where she was treated and released the same night, Matzo said.
“She cried all weekend,” he said.
Matzo said his wife is seeking criminal charges against the students involved, as well as legal action against the school district, according to the Morning Call.