Jan. 14, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
The family of an 8-year-old student at a Williamsburg elementary school is searching for answers after their third-grader apparently fractured his skull during gym class last week in an incident that required emergency brain surgery.
Roger Gao, an 8-year-old at P.S. 250, has spent the last week recovering from the surgery after sustaining the devastating head injury on Jan. 7.
But in the week since the incident, the Gao family says they have been left in the dark over what happened, with the school failing to provide any details of the incident.
The distressed family and their lawyer, John Eleterakis, were joined by Borough President Eric Adams in a press conference over the weekend to push for answers while revealing some details about the 8-year-old’s injuries.
Elefterakis said the young boy had fractured the right side of his skull to the point where it was indented, and that he was rushed by ambulance to Maimonides Hospital to treat the fracture and a subdural hematoma via surgery.
Images of Gao’s head after the surgery, with large zig-zag like stitches on the side of his head, were also shown at the press conference.
Adams, shocked by an injury of this severity taking place in a school, called for a review of the safety of the school’s recreational space, as well as an independent review of what exactly happened to Gao.
“Other children have hurt themselves in gym before, but to have a skull fracture of this magnitude, this was not a trip and fall,” Adams said.
Elefterakis also claimed that the Montrose Avenue school uses unsuitable spaces for gym classes, including classrooms filled with desks and chairs, and that the classes lack adequate oversight.
“It speaks to something being wrong with the supervision in that gym class,” Elefterakis said.
Despite many requests, the family has been unable to get any details from the school about the cause of Gao’s injury, including something as simple as what room it happened it.
“We are outraged that it has taken this long for proper communication to his father and to his family,” Adams said.
Elefterakis called on parents whose children may have information about Roger’s injury to come forward.
Roger, whose memory has been affected by the physical trauma, is currently unable to recall what happened to him. He is in stable condition, however.
Guo Quan Gao, Roger’s father, said through an interpreter that the family is “deeply upset about what happened” and are “very concerned” about Roger’s condition.
The Department of Education said, according to reports, that it would look into the allegations.
“Safety always comes first, and EMS swiftly responded to the school,” a DOE spokesperson told news outlets. “We will investigate any allegation of misconduct, and ensure we continue providing support to the family.”