Colleagues rally following attack on teacher

Fellow teachers rallied Friday in a sign of solidarity following an attack on a Hempstead Middle School teacher earlier this week.

Dozens of teachers from the Hempstead school district turned out dressed in black and chanted as they intentionally turned their backs on the district administration offices.

Annika McKenzie and a 14-year-old girl allegedly choked and knocked Hempstead math teacher Catherine Englehardt unconscious after being told that the teacher put her hands on McKenzie's 12-year-old daughter earlier in the day. McKenzie pleaded not guilty to felony strangulation and assault charges Thursday. The 14-year-old girl was charged with assault. McKenzie's attorney says the woman confronted the teacher because the teacher had "manhandled her child."

Dolores Porcaro, a now-retired Hempstead school teacher, tells News 12 Long Island that teachers are often hurt or threatened and the district does nothing about it.

School board president Lamont Johnson stood in the parking lot during the rally and told reporters afterward that the district was addressing the incident.

"We don't condone any violence of any sort, and will do anything to make sure this doesn't happen again," he said. "I can't give you the specifics at this time, but we're working on it. We have plans in place."

Elias Mestizo, the president of the Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association, says nothing has improved since the attack.

Englehardt is now resting at home.




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