SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: The Death of a Teacher's Baby Touches Us All

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Death of a Teacher's Baby Touches Us All

I can't believe it's been 12 days since I have last posted. So much to shared about my latest ATR
posting but that will have to wait. Something else has been gnawing within my brain.

As we all read in the papers this week, a horrible, horrible thing happened in the Bronx. A sick deranged "human being" not only choked his 2 month old son to death, but then drove the lifeless body to Brewster NY rented a hotel room and buried the baby in the woods off Route 22.

The reason this is being shared on these pages is that the mother of the baby is a NYCDOE teacher.

The father, who has lived up to his sordid past, choked the baby because the baby would not stop crying and, according to some reports, the mother was giving more attention to. 

After burying the baby, the proud father turned to the mother and reportedly said,
"If you’re going to become a liability, I’m going to kill you, too.”
Obviously, not a loving relationship, but definitely, an abusive one that the mother and teacher was forced to live in.

How was this case cracked? Eventually the mother could not take it no more and attempted suicide by swallowing pills. Not only her method to choose to deal with the death of her baby, but seemingly, the only way out of an abusive relationship. She a psychiatrist at the New York Hospital in White Plains shared what was told and contacted the police.

Remember, this is what we know, what is being reported. What we don't know is the life that went on behind the closed doors of the mother and her psycho boyfriend.

That being said, some of what I have read on some social media sites from teachers has me a bit unnerved. There are those calling the mother just as culpable for not contacting authorities immediately to calling for the mother to be arrested as well, or the normal, "I will never let myself be in abusive relationship..." This is not needed nor warranted.

It is natural to be angry. It is natural to put yourself into the mother's position and say what you will or will not do. But let's be real. No one will ever know what they will do in any situation unless they are in that situation. To blame the mother, to find fault with her is easy. To support her, to help her, is the hard part. Now mind you, I can only comment on the information that has been made public. But as have now I will support this mother through whatever method I so desire and this should be the same of anyone. Use prayer, good thoughts, etc... This is a tragedy and the mother is a victim, a different type of victim, as well. She is going through hell and will for the rest of her life.

Having said that, I am concerned with more hell being dumped on her by our good friends at the NYC DOE and SCI.

This woman does not need to be subjected to any of the poking and prodding of SCI. Not now, not ever. If they need to find out what happened, contact NYPD and read their reports. The mother has not been charged with a crime, so why should the snoops be out in full force?

Who knows if the mother will ever want to, or can, teach again? The worst thing for the DOE to do will be to investigate her and send her to sit in the Rubber Room for months.

The best thing for the DOE to do is pay her in full, cover her psychiatric expenses in full, for however long it takes. When she is ready to be back in the classroom, send her make to her old school, at her old position, if she wants it. If not, find a position other than an ATR for her.

And, the UFT can be more involved and this is a bone of contention for me.

The UFT can do more to help its members that are in distress. Yes, the UFT has MAP, but until this year (Because it is an election year?) I have never saw flyers in any buildings. I have no idea how effective this program is, but reading it the big problem I have is that one has to go to 50 Broadway to take advantage of it. In the case of mental health the mountain must come to Mohammad, not the other way around. The UFT needs and must be more proactive when it comes to members in distress. This mother was clearly in distress both before and after the death of her baby.

We as teachers must support one another when there is distress in our colleague's lives. This teacher, this mother, is going through the worst imaginable thing a mother can go through. To throw invective language from the safety of a computer screen will serve no purpose. Be upset, be disappointment, be angry, but show a modicum of some support.

God knows, if the shoe were to be on the other foot.


Harris L. said...

Thank you, Peter. I hadn't been following this situation because it is so very painful to think about much less "follow." Had no idea she was a teacher. And, unfortunately, I have no expectation that the DOE or the UFT will handle this thing with any caring or respect.

From your mouth to God's ears....

Santana said...

Unfortunately Peter, I know this teacher personally...she's a friend of family and I are devastated by this horrific tragedy...I wish in hindsight that I should of helped her...I myself was in an abusive relationship and know the signs but I never picked up on what she was going through... I just pray that she doesn't lose her job... I, too have seen some of the comments made by some saying she should have done more to report that pos baby daddy but in reality, if you have never walked in an abused woman's shoes, you don't know. So, as I say: ONLY GOD KNOWS AND ONLY GOD CAN JUGDE...all we can do is pray for Danielle...and thank you Peter for this well written and light shedding piece...

Anonymous said...

Sad that Peter has no clue regarding what UFT does with regards to sad situations. MAP is a top notch program as is highly confidential. Sorry Peter but you honestly have no clue on this one. Stick to your comic strip blogging.

Pete Zucker said...

Ok. Enlighten me. I didn't knock MAP at all. But do enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

Having cared for many abused women, I know many of them are just like you & me. They are ashamed at what is happening - & the ignorant judgement of others helps keep them silent. Instead of being offered support, they are sneered at. Peter is absolutely correct; helping is the harder path - but it's the only one that fosters change.

Anonymous said...

You're ringing the right bell, sir. This woman needs to be treated with compassion. She lost her child.

The MAP seems weird to me. Nice gesture by the union, but, only a gesture. Why would anyone approach the union? We have health insurance. Call up, get a therapist, and get started. Most people keep there private lives private. Making people think they have to confess their personal problems to the f-ing Union in order to get help will likely dissuade them from getting help at all. Don't call the union, call a therapist. And do it now. Our health plans pay for it, and nobody finds out. It's basically a right of being a teacher.

Anonymous said...

MAP provides up to 6 free and confidential counseling sessions in an out-of-the-way office at 50 Broadway. The therapists who work there are extremely dedicated professionals. They also help to refer members to health professionals in their own neighborhoods. The previous commenter says, "don't call the union, call a therapist." But, if you don't know a good one, and need some immediate help, the MAP program is there for you.

Of course, if it's a creation of the UFT, it must be a spawn of the devil, right?

Anonymous said...


"it's basically a right of being a teacher"

Any basic right of a teacher comes from the collective bargaining by way of the UFT.

Unless you want to go back to the days of women being fired for getting married or "showing". Go back to the days of paying doctors in cash for medical services. Not being hired because you were of a particular religion or race or how about being fired for the sole reason that the Principal just wants to for know reason at all or simple to give the job to his (and it would be a he) worthless nephew.

The Union and particularly this Union has given you everything.

As far as MAP it is a great confidential program. Your Chapter Leader, District Rep, Borough Office and even the Central Office is totally out of it. The issues discussed are between you and the professional running that program.