After-school staffers stuck boy in closet compartment: mom
A 6-year-old boy was repeatedly jammed into a dark hole in a closet ceiling by sadistic staffers at an after-school program in a city school, his furious mom told The Post.
After being hoisted by the crotch and lifted head first into the pitch-black compartment as a form of punishment, the kindergartner would be locked — “kicking, screaming and crying” — in the tiny classroom closet for “God knows how long,” said his mother, Porsche Gaddy.
“They emotionally tortured him,” the Bronx mom said through tears. “My son told me that they did it to him all the time.”
Four staffers at the LACASA after-school care program at PS 84 on the Upper West Side were fired from the program last week after the allegations came to light. One still works at another school for the city Department of Education.
The NYPD said it is investigating. The DOE has shut down the program, saying it did not have a permit to operate.
The boy was tortured for “acting up” and was the only child of the 20 in the program to be crammed into the 2¹/2-by-1 ¹/2-foot opening, the mom said.
On May 11, two girls told their teachers at the well-regarded K-5 school on West 92nd Street that they were too scared to attend the program that day.
“They didn’t want to get put in the hole, too,” said Gaddy, 29. “The staff would threaten other kids with getting put up there.”
Gaddy’s son was questioned by the school guidance counselor and corroborated the girls’ claims. The principal informed Gaddy, who immediately filed a police report.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” she said. “How could somebody I entrusted with the safety of my child be hurting him?”
The kids said LACASA staff told them to keep the hole “a secret.”
Gaddy’s son first enrolled in October. He began acting strangely at home in the spring, the mom said.
“He kept talking about a secret, but he was scared of getting in trouble if he told,” Gaddy recalled.
The boy even practiced shutting himself in a closet at home.
“He went inside, shut the door and said, ‘It’s not so bad when the lights are on,’ ” Gaddy said. “I never put it together that he was trying to toughen himself up.”
“It’s affecting him to the point where he can’t even talk about it,” Gaddy said. “When you bring it up, he gets upset and withdrawn.”
LACASA was run by the Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Council, a nonprofit that has gotten $115,500 in city funding so far this year.
It served about 145 students from PS 84 and cost families $125 a week.
A Strycker’s Bay executive told Gaddy that employees Camila Naranjo, Ricky Soto, Naya Fields and LACASA’s head kindergarten counselor, Charlie Calderon, were fired as a result of the allegations.
The nonprofit would not confirm nor deny the names, but said its officials “immediately met with the staff that were involved and terminated their employment.”
Naranjo is a DOE employee who was moonlighting at LACASA and still works as a paraprofessional at PS 9, also on the Upper West Side, the department confirmed.
Her parents said Saturday that she was traveling and “everything is resolved,” without elaborating.
DOE officials said LACASA was shut down on May 17, six days after the children’s allegations, because it “did not have a valid permit.”
The program needed a city permit to allow children to remain in the school after hours.
A Strycker’s Bay spokeswoman said the council was “disturbed by the allegations” but claimed the program left the school “due to unrelated administrative matters.”
PS 84’s principal did not return a request for comment.
No arrests have been made, an NYPD spokesman said. The DOE said it is also investigating.