Student Accused of Assaulting Principal in Murry Bergtraum HS Building

The principal of Manhattan Early College School for Advertising was beaten by a student yesterday after telling the teen to remove his headphones. The school is located in the same building as Murry Bergtraum High School on Pearl Street.

Michael Tossman, 36, is resting at home today after being treated for injuries suffered in the assault. According to police, the incident happened after the student placed the headphones on the floor. When Tossman bent over to pick them up, 18-year-old Luis Penzo reportedly began punching the principal in the head. Penzo faces felony assault charges.

A Department of Education spokesperson said, “The NYPD immediately responded to a concerning incident that took place at Manhattan Early College School For Advertising. The safety and security of students and staff is our top priority, and we are looking into it.”

Separately, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina added, “the student was arrested and that is a message in itself and of course I’m upset.”

Channel 7 reported from the school earlier today:

As students left school, officials handed out a statement and tried to keep them from talking to reporters. They would not give us a copy of the statement. Melvin Rodriguez knows the student who was arrested. “He was the type of quiet person that would always do his work. He never messed with anybody, always come to class on time,” said Rodriguez. “Luis is quiet. He keeps to himself,” said student Ijanae Cavallero. “I expect if you touch someone and break someone’s stuff, I mean, that would be a good reaction for me.”

 The Post reported details of the letter that Tossman wrote to students. It read, in part:
As many of you know, I was injured yesterday during an incident in school… I am writing to thank you for the outpouring of support that I received from this community; your phone calls, emails, and kind words have lifted my spirits.
The student’s attorney said he has been struggling and acting out, noting that his mother died of a brain aneurysm in his arms last year.