Police say the parent walked past security and confronted the teacher outside her classroom

By Adam Carlson
April 18, 2015 12:45 PM
NBC

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/portableplayer/?cmsID=300212551&videoID=wiv8LTDsJu_Y&origin=nbcnewyork.com&sec=news&subsec=local&width=600&height=360A parent was arrested earlier this week following an alleged ambush-style assault of a veteran New York middle school teacher Wednesday, which left her momentarily unconscious, PEOPLE has confirmed. A student was also arrested, according to Newsday.

Annika McKenzie, 34, walked past a security checkpoint at Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School, in Hempstead, and allegedly confronted math teacher Catherine Engelhardt outside her classroom on Wednesday at about 2 p.m., police told the New York Daily News.

According to the Daily News, McKenzie “shoved the teacher against a wall, placed her in a headlock and then threw her to the floor in an incident caught on school surveillance.” A fellow teacher said Engelhardt lost consciousness for several minutes.

McKenzie’s 14-year-old niece then began punching the teacher in the head, police told Newsday.

“Today we saw exactly what we should never see and we are disgusted,” said Elias Mestizo, president of the Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association, at Wednesday night’s school board meeting, Newsday reports.

About Engelhardt, Mestizo told the paper, “Those who know her have expressed that not only is she passionate with what she does, but that students really care for her.”

Both McKenzie and her niece were arrested in connection with the attack, according to the paper. The former was charged with charged with second-degree assault on school grounds and second-degree strangulation; the latter was charged as a minor with second-degree assault on school grounds.

McKenzie’s bond was set Thursday at $5,000 cash or $7,500 bond, according to the paper. She pleaded not guilty to the charges. Her niece’s plea information was not available due to the fact that she was charged as a minor.

McKenzie’s lawyer told NBC 4 New York that, at some point before the attack, Englehardt had “put her hands” on McKenzie’s 12-year-old daughter. Nassau County police, who have assumed the investigation, were unable to confirm this allegation to PEOPLE.

The district “will do everything we can to ensure our students are safe in our schools,” the school board president said in a statement, according to Newsday. Engelhardt was treated at an area hospital and then released, according to the Daily News.

On Friday, Hempstead teachers rallied outside the district administration offices under a call for tighter school security, which local union officials cited as worrying in the attack.

According to News12 Long Island, they chanted “Our safety matters” and wore all black.

Messages left with McKenzie’s lawyer, the Hempstead superintendent and the teachers’ union were not immediately returned.

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