When a pregnant woman goes to work and ends up with a dead baby, something is terribly wrong. Lissedia Batista was a 27 year old Spanish teacher who taught at Exploration Academy in the Bronx and was sixteen weeks pregnant. Given today’s economy, I’m certain that Batista was grateful to have a job with the New York City Board of Education. As a native New Yorker I am keenly aware of how competitive it is to land such a position. Working for the Board of Education traditionally meant job security; a pension and a strong union that took care of its members.
Like many young teachers, Batista had compassion. She attempted to stop a fight between two male students, was pushed out of the way and subsequently fell to the floor. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital but unfortunately experienced a miscarriage. She refused to press charges against the students for fear that they would become incarcerated. Batista’s union, the United Federation of Teachers has called for an investigation; the Deputy Mayor offered condolences and condemnation but it still doesn’t change the facts – Batista’s baby is dead.
At some point in the future, Batista will draw the line and set limits as I did as a resident ob-gyn physician. I was on call one hot summer night and summoned to the Emergency Room at an ungodly hour of the morning. When I arrived, I encountered a woman who alleged she couldn’t remove a feminine hygiene product. Upon examination, I discovered that the product was already gone. The nurse had stepped out of the exam room leaving me alone with the patient. When I told the patient that her condition wasn’t exactly an emergency, she spat on me and attempted to provoke me into a physical altercation. One misguided action could have ended my career and possibly my life. The nurse returned to the exam room not a moment too soon. I had escaped bodily harm this time. The next time I might not be so lucky. I filed a formal complaint with my union and program director and refused to work in the emergency room again.
It was not Batista’s job to stop a student fight. Where was Security? Did teachers have a panic button? Our place of employment should not be hazardous to our health. Perhaps a legal consult is in order.