‘I was dragged by the hair, slapped in face, punched’
The teacher who was attacked by a parent at school last week is irked by what she claims to be a tamer version of events that emerged in court.
A teacher for the past three years, Nadine Piscopo, 26, said she was dragged by the hair along the corridor, slapped in the face, punched in the tummy and pushed to the ground.
“It was a humiliating experience,” the English teacher at St Ignatius secondary boys’ school in Tal-Ħandaq said.
Ms Piscopo said the attack was so vicious she even found a bracelet charm belonging to the woman stuck in her dishevelled hair.
“The police told me to bring the charm to court as evidence but I never got the chance to speak, let alone show the charm in court,” she added.
Her attacker, Rosarita Galea, 36, from Siġġiewi, was charged in court a day after the incident occurred. Ms Galea admitted to slightly injuring Ms Piscopo by pulling her hair. She was conditionally discharged for two years.
But the teacher is flabbergasted by the allegation made in court that she pulled her student’s hair, an incident that is supposed to have provoked the woman.
Ms Piscopo completely denies ever pulling anybody’s hair.
She explains that a day before the incident the woman’s teenage son was misbehaving in class and at one point he became physically aggressive towards another student.
“I couldn’t allow this and I started shouting into the boy’s face, telling him to bring his mother because I wanted to speak to her about his behaviour. The boy was later spoken to by the assistant head,” she said.
The next day, while Ms Piscopo was teaching another class, a woman suddenly appeared at the door. She asked her whether she was Ms Piscopo.
At that point the woman started shouting rudely in her face, asking her what she had done to her son. Ms Piscopo asked her to move outside the classroom where shocked students looked on in disbelief.
“As she dragged me by my hair she called me names and threatened that this would not be the last time. She even said her husband would come to the school,” she recalled.
The woman’s husband did in fact turn up at school some time later but it was to apologise for his wife’s actions.
Ms Piscopo said that at no point did she retaliate. “I don’t believe in violence. I am a vegan and a pacifist by nature.”
Teachers came out of their classrooms after hearing the commotion in the corridor and pulled the woman off her. Badly shaken, Ms Piscopo said she felt let down by the school administration. She added that the assistant head even tried to convince her not to report the case to police.
“I got a lot of support from the teachers. But anybody who passes through such an experience at her place of work expects the boss to show some concern. I don’t know who my boss is, whether the headmaster or the education division, but I expected some support from them.”
On Friday Ms Piscopo returned to work and recalled having to calm down her teenage students, who were up in arms over the incident. She never had a lesson conducted in such silence.
“I think they were still shocked by what they saw,” she said.
Ms Piscopo holds no grudge towards the woman’s son. “I pity the boy because it is the mother who caused all this. But I will avoid having direct contact with him for the time being. It is better this way for him and for me.”
In its decree the court said the woman must not approach Ms Piscopo but would be allowed to go to school and attend parents’ day.
However, the Malta Union of Teachers ordered teachers at the school not to communicate with the mother and refuse to attend any meetings with her.
The woman’s lawyer, Edward Gatt, insisted his client admitted to all charges, cooperated with the police and even apologised in court for what she had done.
He said the charges reflected the medical report that spoke of slight injuries. “My client was treated more severely than people who are accused with similar charges. Normally, people charged this way are not taken to court under arrest.”