Grace Peterson-Hagendorf, Queens Teacher, Pleads Not Guilty To Charges She Choked Out 6-Year-Old Student

A 59-year-old Queens teacher is in a bit of trouble, which tends to be the breaks when you allegedly choke out a student...who's only six years old.

Grace Peterson-Hagendorf, a substitute teacher at Public School 22 in Flushing, pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that she choked out a 6-year-old student in a classroom earlier this week.

According to the Queens County District Attorney's Office, Peterson-Hagendorf was filling in for a teacher who was called away to a meeting on Wednesday morning.

When the teacher returned to the classroom, about two hours later, a 6-year-old student immediately approached her crying her eyes out.

The girl told the teacher that Peterson-Hagendorf had "pushed her from behind and, grabbing her neck, pinched and twisted it," Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown.

The girl, in pain, according to Brown, was taken to a Queens hospital with redness, swelling, and a large welt on her neck.

Peterson-Hagendorf was arrested later that day.

"Schools are meant to be safe learning environments for their students," Brown says. "It is therefore difficult to comprehend that a teacher could lose all self-control and physically attack a young student in front of a room full of her friends and classmates.  If the allegations prove true, the defendant must accept responsibility for her actions."

Attempts this morning to reach Peterson-Hagendorf's attorney, Michael Spiegel, were unsuccessful.

Peterson-Hagendorf's been charged with one count each of second-and-third-degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and second-degree harassment.

If convicted, Peterson-Hagendorf faces up to seven years in prison. She was released on her own recognizance yesterday. Her next court date is scheduled for April 2.

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