N.Y. Teacher Fired for 6th Grader’s Drowning

LONG ISLAND, N.Y.—A teacher was terminated from a Harlem middle school as a result of the drowning of a 12-year-old girl on a field trip to the beach. Two other administrators were also disciplined.

Erin Bailey, a first-year English teacher at the Columbia Secondary School, took 24 students – including sixth grader Nicole Suriel – on a class trip to Long Beach on Long Island on June 22, according to the New York Times.

However, Suriel couldn’t swim, and Bailey knew it, according to a 19-page report sanctioned by Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon. The report also found that school officials did a poor job of planning the trip and failed to acquire the required parental consent forms. Additionally, the report notes that as a chaperone, Bailey should have noticed signs that said the beach was closed to swimmers and that no lifeguards were on duty.

Some students told authorities that Bailey allowed students who didn’t know how to swim to go into the water, but they were only allowed in as far as their thighs or waists. Many students were overcome by waves, including Suriel, who disappeared into the ocean after wading in the water for more than hour, reports WPIX.com. Emergency crews were not able to resuscitate the student when they pulled her out from the water.

The school’s principal, Jose Maldonado-River, was placed on two years probation, while Assistant Principal Andrew Stillman, who helped organize the trip, was demoted to a city teacher.

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