Long Island Teacher Removed From Class After Taking Distraught Student for Hot Cocoa

Janice Graf was trying to help a student cope with deaths of her two friends.

ByABC News
February 12, 2016, 5:43 PM

— -- A teacher who was trying to help comfort a student going through a very difficult time is now in trouble for her actions.

Janice Graf, an art teacher at Center Moriches High School on Long Island, New York, was removed from her classroom and reassigned to administrative duty after taking grieving senior Maddy Zaminski, who had recently lost two friends, to a local store for some hot cocoa.

"She needed someone to talk to. She was very distraught. I felt that she was in crisis," Graf told ABC News owned New York station WABC.

Graf received permission from Zaminski’s father to take her to get hot cocoa during school hours and brought Zaminski right back to school afterwards. But the school has rules about not taking students off campus during school hours and subsequently removed Graf from her post for the violation.

Now Graf is fighting to get reinstated with the help of an attorney, Vess Mitev.

“They are using a vague, amorphous letter,” Mitev told ABC News today of the school's justification for removing Graf from her classroom.

Mitev also said that Graf "did what any good human being would do when someone is in distress."

Zaminski was “completely shocked that the school district would take such a harsh stance,” according to Mitev.

"My whole life, as well as other students', we've been told to trust your teachers and go to them when you need help and that's exactly what I did," Zaminski told WABC.

Graf and Mitev attended the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday night where Mitev addressed the BOE to consider the next steps in this matter.

The school board president, Joshua Foster, told ABC News in a statement, "We are not permitted by law to comment on the specifics of a personnel matter. At this point Administration is continuing its investigation and review of this matter in accordance with law and District policies, and will thereafter be reporting to the Board accordingly. We will ensure that the process is thorough and equitable, and that our students, the district and the staff are appropriately protected."

“I just want to be back with my kids,” Graf said. “I want to be back in the classroom.”

The school has not responded to ABC News' request for comment.