Society

School Therapist Helped Disabled Student with Fundraiser, Is Accused of Keeping Profits

| by Lina Batarags

A Manhattan school therapist was suspended on Sept. 15 for helping a student with cerebral palsy set up a Kickstarter fundraising drive called “This Ability Not Disability.”

The purpose of the fundraiser was to help the student, 13-year-old Aaron Philip, put together a book and film to help other disabled kids.

However, after accusations that she was keeping the profits of the fundraiser for herself, Fisher was suspended for 30 days without pay for official misconduct.

On Friday, Fisher returned to the Manhattan School for Children—but not without a message.

As The Daily News reports, Fisher says she will wear a T-shirt that reads “The Banality of Bureaucracy is Oblivious To Its Power to Crush Dreams, Innovation and Our Humanity.”

The shirt also shows a pairs of hands covering eyes.

“I’m planning on wearing it every single day until I get my money and get what’s needed,” Fisher said. “I’m filing a grievance against those who have verbally and physically harassed me and attempted to ruin my reputation.”

Fisher, 55, said that her efforts will begin with the principle, because “it was on her watch that this happened,” and “then it will trickle down.”

Fisher said that she is eager to confront the co-workers whose false claims that she was raising money for “her own charity” led to her suspension. She also blasted Office of Special Investigations sleuth Wei Liu for interrogating her wheelchair-bound eighth grade student like a criminal.

Fisher said that Liu had said to the student, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt your friend Deb, I just want to know if she helps you take your tests,” to which the student reportedly responded, “Thank goodness I read The Hunger Games because I learned from that book whenever someone says I’m not gonna hurt someone, it means they’re lying.”

The Daily News reports that when the Fisher story was first broken by the New York Times, Aaron’s father, Petrone Philip, told The News that everybody at the school knew about the fundraiser, including principal Claire Lowenstein.

Philip said that the real reason Fisher was in trouble was because she filed a complaint with the DOE against a co-worker, claiming the woman physically bullied and verbally harassed her.

Philip alleged that that teacher, in turn, accused Fisher of helping herself to the $16,000 she helped raise for Aaron’s projects.

After she was suspended, Fisher said that nobody at the school explained to her students why she was gone; Aaron reportedly found out by reading The Daily News.

Fisher now intends to return to the school with her head held high. A parent at her school circulated a petition asking Mayor de Blasio and school Chancellor Carmen Farina to reinstate her; more than 2,500 people reportedly signed the petition.

“I know a lot parents and a lot of children are excited to see me back,” Fisher said.

Sources: NY Daily News, NY Times

Photo Source: NY Daily News