Lissedia Batista was a 27-year-old Spanish teacher who taught at Exploration Academy in the Bronx and was sixteen weeks pregnant. Given today’s economy, I’m certain that Batista was grateful to have a job with the New York City Board of Education. As a native New Yorker, I am keenly aware of how competitive it is to land such a position. Working for the Board of Education traditionally meant job security — a pension and a strong union that took care of its members.
Like many young teachers, Batista had compassion. She attempted to stop a fight between two male students, was pushed out of the way, and subsequently fell to the floor. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital, but unfortunately experienced a miscarriage.
Batista refused to press charges against the students for fear that they would become incarcerated. Her union, the United Federation of Teachers, has called for an investigation. The Deputy Mayor offered condolences and condemnation, but it still doesn’t change the fact that Batista’s baby is dead.
At some point in the future, Batista will draw the line and set limits as I did as a resident OB/GYN physician. I was on call one hot summer night and summoned to the emergency room at an ungodly hour of the morning. When I arrived, I encountered a woman who alleged she couldn’t remove a feminine hygiene product. Upon examination, I discovered that the product was already gone. The nurse had stepped out of the exam room leaving me alone with the patient.
When I told the patient that her condition wasn’t exactly an emergency, she spat on me and attempted to provoke me into a physical altercation. One misguided action could have ended my career and possibly my life. The nurse returned to the exam room not a moment too soon. I had escaped bodily harm this time. The next time I might not be so lucky. I filed a formal complaint with my union and program director and refused to work in the emergency room again.
It was not Batista’s job to stop a student fight. Where was school security? Did teachers have a panic button? Our place of employment should not be hazardous to our health. Perhaps a legal consult is in order.
*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*