Scricca responds to school violence claims

Riverhead School District Superintendent Diane Scricca denied last week that a Phillips Avenue Elementary school kindergarten student was nearly stabbed when another student slashed his leather jacket at a school bus stop about a month ago.

The superintendent said she had looked into the alleged incident and found it baseless, adding she was upset it had been reported publicly as fact at a school board meeting last month.

“That was thoroughly investigated and we found no truth to what that parent complained,” Dr. Scricca said in an interview Friday. “There was no validity, no witnesses.”

Flanders parent Kenneth Alfano reported at the April 27 board meeting that his son, a special needs kindergarten student, was standing at a bus stop in the afternoon when an another student slashed his jacket from “neck to belly.”

Dr. Scricca said the only evidence was the ripped leather jacket, which could have been caused by a fall or an accident. “It could be a thousand ways that you could rip a jacket,” she said.

Dr. Scricca said that there will always be bullying in schools because it’s human nature, but that educators have a responsibility to “teach kids there is a better way to handle things.”

The superintendent added that conditions are improving at the Phillips Avenue school and that safety should not be an issue.

“The school is a very safe school,” she said. “It’s getting better every day.” She also expressed her displeasure that bus driver and district employee Yvette Tirado had complained during last Tuesday’s board meeting that her reports of violence on the bus had been ignored, a claim Dr. Scricca also denied.

“I can’t even respond to that,” she said, citing personnel issues. “It was totally unprofessional to me.”

If a student says that they are being bullied in school, Dr. Scricca said, the parent should report it to the child’s teacher. If the situation is not remedied, she said, the next step would be to go the assistant principal or the principal. If the situation requires further review, it might then be brought before the assistant superintendent.

Mr. Alfano could not be reached for comment.

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