One of the more difficult jobs of being teacher is deciding if and when it’s necessary to report parents to authorities when child neglect is suspected. It can be a tough call, and it can also be a dangerous one, as New York City special needs teacher Jennifer Golian painfully discovered.
Golian, a former teacher at PS 84, made the call to report Jennifer DeJesus after her two kids continually showed up to school late and smelling of marijuana. Her thanks? After the city Administration for Children Services completed its investigation, DeJesus waited for Golian to leave school, jumped her and beat her up, causing “serious neck and back injuries,” Golian’s lawyer Gerald Cohen told the New York Post.
When DeJesus had Golian on the ground, she whispered, “I know what you did,” according to a criminal complaint filed against DeJesus by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
And now Golian, who is required by law to report suspected child neglect or abuse, is suing the city for failing to protect her. Golian said she was assured by a worker with the state Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment that her name would remain confidential, even though the report would be public. Golian was scared because she lived in the same neighborhood as DeJesus and had heard that the mother had violent tendencies, according to her lawsuit.
“I said, ‘But I’m really scared,’” Golian, who is suing the city, ACS, the worker who took her complaint and DeJesus, told The Post. “She said, ‘You have to leave your name, I assure you, your name will not be brought up to her.’ I’m a mandated reporter, so I had to call. It was part of my job.”
DeJesus got off with three years probation in exchange for pleading guilty, and there is an order against her prohibiting her from contacting Golian. Still, the teacher fears DeJesus could strike again. Golian has been granted a transfer to an undisclosed school.
A spokesperson for the ACS said, “Protecting the identity of mandated reporters is crucial. The city will review the complaint and investigate the facts to determine what actually happened in this situation.”
The Post tracked down DeJesus, who said she did not neglect her children, now ages 8 and 10, and never laid a hand on Golian.
“I just politely told her that I know what she had did and she started running from me,” said DeJesus, 28. “She came up to me to give me a hug and I told her that I know what she had done and that’s it. Her eyes started to bulge and she started running back toward the school.”