Teacher Stabs Fellow Teacher at Poughkeepsie High School
One of the most shocking stories I have read in a very long time comes to us out of Poughkeepsie, New York, where, on December 15, a teacher attacked a co-teacher in the hallway in front of students, teachers, and other staff members.
From what I have been able to discover, the two teachers involved, Ronette Ricketts and Cynthia Glozier, both English teachers at Poughkeepsie High School, have not exactly gotten along in the past. On this particular morning, Ricketts reportedly showed up at the district office asking for a personnel action sheet because, according to District Superintendent Laval Wilson, “Somehow she was under the impression that she was being terminated.” Wilson said he didn’t know why she thought she was losing her job, and I confess that I don’t know what, if anything, this visit may have had to do with what happened later that morning. (Makes you wonder if she had planned the attack ahead of time, and knew she would be terminated as a result…Just makes you wonder.)
What I do know is that somewhere around 10 a.m. Glozier, who was described by her students as a very calm teacher who has been at the school for years, approached Ricketts in the hall and asked her why she had not attended an English Department staff meeting that had taken place earlier that morning.
According to detectives, Ricketts told Glazier that she was busy with parent-teacher conferences, “and then one thing led to another.”
Forty-year-old Ricketts proceeded to pull a Phillips screwdriver from her pocket and began stabbing Glozier multiple times. Almost immediately, teachers, students, and staff intervened.
One of these was Justin Richardson, a senior linebacker who said, “I saw Ms. Ricketts just hammering her in the side of head,” Richardson told PIX 11 TV. “I saw a lot of blood. It was shocking. I just jammed her really hard to get the screwdriver [to] fly out of her hand. If I didn’t step in she would have killed her.”
Whether that was Ricketts’ plan or not, is hard to say, but she managed to stab Glozier 16 times in the face, neck, back, and upper torso before losing her weapon.
As soon as Ricketts had been “removed” from Glozier, police and medics were called in. Glozier was taken to Saint Francis Hospital, and the school was locked down until investigators could determine that it was secure about an hour and 15 minutes later. No students were hurt in the incident, although many were traumatized by what they had witnessed.
Sophomore, Courtney Wright, said she heard and saw the two teachers fighting in the middle of the hallway near the main staircase. “They started hitting each other,” she said. “It was actually quite frightening. It didn’t help that students were yelling and screaming.”
But after watching closed-circuit television footage of the incident which only lasted about a minute, Wilson said, “It was one teacher attacking the other teacher, it wasn’t two teachers fighting. It wasn’t two teachers mutually getting into a confrontation. There may have been some words passed – but it was one teacher attacking the other.”
Wilson told reporters that an assistant principal had spoken to Glozier, who was treated and listed in stable condition at St. Francis Hospital. He said that she had asked the assistant principal to relay a message. “She wanted the kids to know she is a strong person and is recovering,” said Wilson. “We wish her a good recovery.”
Counselors, psychologists, and social workers were available throughout the rest of the day to help students, faculty, and staff who were traumatized by the attack, and about 20 percent of the school’s students went home after the incident.
Ricketts was arraigned before City Court Judge Frank M. Mora on felony assault charges. Detective Horton reported that she was charged with first-degree attempted assault and second-degree assault, which are both felonies, and also fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, which is a misdemeanor. Ricketts was placed in jail on $50,000 bail or $100,000 bond.
Her new attorney, Gary Greenwald, who replaced attorney Jonna Spilbor who represented Ricketts at her arraignment on December 16, described Ricketts as a “much-loved” teacher and the product of a “nice, middle-class Jamaican family.” He went on to say, “Generally speaking, there’s no issue regarding what occurred, but there’s a substantial issue about my client’s mental state” when it happened.
Ricketts’ hearing has been postponed to January, and she awaits her trial from home after posting bail this past weekend.
Cynthia Glozier was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday and is now recovering at home.