A teacher at Arlington's Wakefield High School teacher who was knocked down and struck several times when he tried to stop an after-school fight several months ago criticized the Arlington county School Board and school administration last night, charging that they failed to respond quickly enough or forcefully enough to the incident.
Math teacher Louis Goffredi, 40, said that he has received little support from top-level administrators or board members, and said that "the affair has been disposed of in a flurry of inactivity."
Goffredi was injured on Oct. 19, when he entered a crowd of about 70 students in an effort to stop a fight and was pushed from behind and hit several times in the face.
Wakefield Principal Dennis Hill recommended expelling four students involved in the attack on Goffredi, and more than 100 Wakefield teachers signed a petition supporting Hill's advice. But Superintendent Charles E. Nunley, in a recommendation that the School Board considered Dec. 6, recommended that the board not expel the students. Nunley cited "very extenuating circumstances" that he said he could not describe because the students are juveniles.
The students now are in alternative education programs and will not return to any of Arlington's three high schools, officials said.
In a prepared statement that she read on behalf of the board before last night's meeting, Chairman Gail H. Nuckols said that "expulsion, denial of any further Arlington public school services, is a most serious step. In effect, it means there is no hope for the individual."
In the statement, Nuckols also commended Goffredi's action Oct. 19, saying "a teacher who does what he did to protect students without regard for his own safety is a credit to the school system and to his profession."
But Goffredi contended that he has been ignored by board members since the incident.
"I will warn any other teachers" facing similar situations, he said, "that you become invisible to the top levels of the administration."
"I don't think anybody is unsympathetic to him," board member Dorothy H. Stambaugh said after the meeting. "The problem is, the punishment that you give to those students, while taking into account the seriousness of their offense, should be directed at their transgression and not out of sympathy for" the teacher.
"We regret that he feels the way he does, but we certainly understand his feelings," Nuckols said. She said that the apparent delay in acting after the incident may have occurred because "it was really a new experience for us as a board, dealing with this kind of case."
No students have been expelled from the Arlington school system in more than 25 years, officials said.