At least a half-dozen New Yorkers have come forward saying they want to do something to help a group of public school students who had to sit out their school’s carnival fun day because their families couldn’t afford the $10 admission fee.
The New York Post reports those who have come forward were moved to do so by a report from the Post on May 24 about the roughly 100 students.
According to the story, the students whose families couldn’t pay the $10 admission for the carnival could sit in a darkened auditorium at Public School 120, in Queens, and watch a Disney movie while their classmates played outside on inflatable slides and carnival rides.
Unnamed teachers who spoke to the Post said they were upset by the exclusion of the less-fortunate students.
“It’s breaking my heart that there are kids inside,” one teacher said.
That teacher said she hugged a 7-year-old student, trying to console the girl who was “crying hysterically”
The girl was the only student in her class who wasn't allowed to join the fun, the teacher said.
“My mom doesn’t care about me,” the student was reportedly overheard telling others.
Another student reportedly asked a staffer in the auditorium if those who were kept inside were being punished.
According to the Post, the school’s principal, Joan Monroe, asked teachers to keep a careful tally of which students had paid and which had not. It was Monroe, the Post reported, who made the final decision to exclude those who couldn’t pay.
Monroe did not respond to requests for comment from the Post.
Another teacher, also was not named by the Post, said the decision was unfair.
“If you are doing a carnival during school hours, it should be free,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s one kid or 200 sitting in the auditorium. They all should have been out there.”
But Frank Chow, the president of the parents association that sponsored the carnival, said Monroe’s decision was likely made in the interest of fairness.
“She was saying it’s not fair to the parents who paid,” Chow told the Post. “You can’t argue much, I guess. The school is under her.”
But some said the decision still did not sit right with them.
Among those who responded to the original Post story was Carlos Medina, a building superintendent who said he would pony up the difference next time some students couldn’t pay.
“Next time they have a carnival any kids that can’t pay the price, please send me the bill for each and all that were less fortunate,” Medina said.
Daren Hornig, a partner of real estate investment firm Hornig Capital Partners, suggested he might just take all the excluded students out himself.
“I’m a big believer in giving back,” he said. “I’ll bring my girls and we’ll all go to an amusement park together and have a good time.”
Others also offered to help raise funds to throw another carnival.
Department of Education spokesman Jason Fink said the department is investigating the incident.
City Assemblyman Ron Kim also said he was looking into it.
“We’re trying to get to the bottom of it and make sure there’s not a repeat,” he said. “It’s very unfortunate that when they actually have a chance to go out and act like children, they can’t.”
The carnival made between $2,000 and $3,000 in profit according to Chow, who said the money would be used to fund other school activities.