A teacher’s aide on Staten Island has been suspended without pay after he was accused of hitting a nonverbal student with autism, according to Department of Education officials and a criminal complaint.
David Pologruto, 61, allegedly slapped the 11-year-old boy on the hand and back inside PS 48, located at 1050 Targee St., on Wednesday, the complaint said.
An assistant principal at the school caught the incident on surveillance video and reported it to police, per the complaint. The child was found disoriented and crying afterward.
While being questioned by police, Pologruto allegedly defended his actions by saying the boy “pinches a lot” and admitted that he “hit his hand,” the complaint said.
Pologruto has been working with the city DOE as a substitute paraprofessional since 2015. He’s worked at PS 48 since 2016 and has no disciplinary history, according to the education department.
“There is no place for this alleged behavior in our schools and Mr. Pologruto was immediately suspended without pay,” DOE spokesman Doug Cohen said in an emailed statement Friday. “The troubling incident is being investigated and we will ensure that appropriate follow up action is taken.”
Pologruto was arraigned on Thursday on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, attempted assault and harassment. He was released on his own recognizance, according to the Staten Island District Attorney’s office, and is due back in court on Jan 30.