Annika McKenzie’s attack on her daughter’s middle school math teacher came after teacher Catherine Engelhardt allegedly hit 34-year-old McKenzie’s 12-year-old daughter earlier in the day. McKenzie’s attack on Engelhardt was caught on the Long Island school’s surveillance camera. Whether or not teacher Engelhardt’s treatment of McKenzie’s daughter was caught on camera is unknown.
According to a local Eyewitness News report on April 17, the incident took place on Wednesday at the Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School in Hempstead, New York. Listening to both sides of the story, it makes one wonder, do two wrongs ever make a right?
After Annika McKenzie’s attack on teacher Engelhardt, the mom’s lawyer, Donald Rollock, told reporters that the math teacher had “put her hands on” McKenzie’s 12-year-old daughter earlier in the day and that her reaction was the reaction that any loving parent would show – defend her child.
Police report that the 34-year-old mom showed up angry at the middle school along with her 14-year-old niece, ignored signing in and bypassed any other security procedures. Instead, she walked straight to Engelhardt’s classroom and waited for her in the hallway. When the teacher showed up, the furious mom shoved her against the wall, placed her in a headlock, strangled her, and then threw her to the floor. After being punched and kicked by McKenzie, her 14-year-old niece — and several other students — the teacher was left unconscious.
Engelhardt, who is recovering at home after having been in the hospital, says that she was afraid something like this would happen someday: “It’s not like I thought a parent would do something, but I knew something violent was going to happen. I’ve warned them time and again that the children have no respect for adults. Yes, I fear for my safety. They can’t control the kids.”
Teachers Union Chief Mestizo said that the incident and the claim that Engelhardt allegedly hit McKenzie’s daughter prior to the mother’s attack is unsubstantiated and needs to be investigated. Hempstead Village Police Chief Michael McGowan said the mom did not file a police report claiming that the teacher had attacked her daughter, so there was no reason to investigate. Mestizo told the school board during a meeting that in previous incidents other teachers had been threatened by students with rape or death and that nothing had been done about it.
“We have teachers saying for more than a year there’s a systemic problem with security of district buildings,” Mestizo commented. “Teachers don’t feel safe. Students don’t feel safe.”
Annika McKenzie’s attack on Engelhardt has resulted in McKenzie being charged with second-degree assault on school grounds (a felony) and second-degree strangulation. Her 14-year-old niece is also being charged with second-degree assault and is scheduled to appear in Family Court since she is a minor. McKenzie has a 2001 pretty larceny on her record. Her bail is set at $5,000.