Report on crossing guard incident set to be released Friday

JOE LOTEMPLIO/STAFF PHOTOElaina Barnaby, a parent of Stafford Middle School students in Plattsburgh, organized a demonstration Wednesday to show support for school crossing guard Maurice Daniels, who has been taken off the job after an incident with a seventh-grade student where Daniels is seen on video striking the student after a verbal exchange on May 4. Barnaby and several others stood across the street from the middle school for a few hours on Tuesday and Wednesday holding signs of support for Daniels. A police investigation of the incident is ongoing.

PLATTSBURGH — A report on the investigation by the Plattsburgh City Police Department into crossing guard Maurice Daniels' apparent striking of a Stafford Middle School seventh grader is set to be released Friday, Mayor Chris Rosenquest said.

Twenty students, teachers and parents have been interviewed for the investigation, which also included review of additional unpublished videos of the incident, Rosenquest said.

In videos posted on social media, Daniels appears to have struck 12-year-old Noah Serrano on the left side of his head after a verbal clash in front of the school on May 4.

Rosenquest said that releasing the report on Friday is a “slight delay from our original expectations, but we’re being thorough.”

Plattsburgh City School District Superintendent Jay Lebrun said he hasn’t received a formal report himself, but that, “I certainly understand that such investigations take time, and I'll therefore continue to defer to that process and trust that it will be handled appropriately,” he said.

SHOW OF SUPPORT

Waiting on a conclusion to the investigation, residents set up two demonstrations Tuesday and Wednesday across from the middle school in support of Daniels, a 20-year crossing guard veteran who has been taken off the job since the incident.

Carrying a sign reading, “Our Kids Need Maurice,” Elaina Barnaby said she has had four of her children attend Stafford Middle School.

“I’ve seen him daily for several years. I just see what a remarkable job he’s done,” she said. “He’s put his life on the line more than once to keep kids safe.”

After watching video of the incident posted on social media, Barnaby said she felt Daniels’ reaction showed he was pushed to the edge.

“To me, it wasn’t violent,” she said. “It wasn’t a beating. Someone had hit their breaking point.”

Barnaby said that she hadn’t heard of a single negative story involving Daniels in the several years she has known of him.

As Barnaby and nine other demonstrators stood across the middle school Wednesday afternoon, passing cars honked in support. Two former Stafford Middle Schoolers also passed by the demonstrators and expressed their support, too.

“I support Maurice 100 percent,” one former student said. “During all of middle school, he was the best crossing guard ever.”

“He was a crossing guard for two of my brothers, too,” he added. “We’ve gotten him Christmas cards and stuff. He’s just the best.”

FAMILY CONCERNED

Serrano’s family has said they want to see charges against Daniels.

Serrano’s father, Michael Serrano, claims that Noah did not provoke or say anything racially charged to the crossing guard after Noah is seen adjusting his mask in the video, which is right before Daniels appears to strike the boy.

“He doesn’t bully. He’s not racist,” Michael told the Press-Republican.

“I’ve dealt with racism a lot growing up and my whole life, so I really taught him to not be that way. I’ve expressed to him how it’s made me feel.”

“They want to say our kid made this guy angry to the point where he did what he did, but we pick up our kid every day. He’s only crossed the street there three times,” Michael added. “He’s only been at the school three weeks now, so how angry can you make somebody?”

SUSPENDED

Michael said that Noah has been suspended from Stafford for 10 days, starting Monday. He said Noah won’t be able to play on the baseball team and that his progress in school will be affected. He sees the suspension as retaliation.

That, paired with the messages and posts directed to him and his family by other parents and residents, Michael said he’s thinking about moving again.

“Considering how bad everything is, we’re probably going to move away after this, I don’t know,” Michael said.

Barnaby said she does feel like some consequences are warranted for Daniels, but that he should ultimately be able to return.

“I would be foolish to say, ‘Oh, that kid deserved it,’ I don’t think anyone should put their hands on someone else’s child,” Barnaby said. “But a kid should not be making this job unsafe either. Another child could have been hit.”

“I’m afraid a kid will get hurt. I just know Maurice has always been safe with these kids. Kids have never been injured,” Barnaby continued.

“The man has to come back, probably in the fall. The dust needs to settle.”

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