Moments before an improperly installed window crashed into a classroom, Christian Botte, a seventh-grade science teacher at IS 201 in Dyker Heights, led students out of harm’s way. “As others ran from the classroom window as it collapsed, Christian ran toward it,” councilmember Vincent Gentile said on Monday night. The window demolished desks and sent debris flying—including into Botte’s corneas, both of which were injured—and left a gaping hole in the building’s façade.
The teacher was issued a proclamation by Gentile for his quick-thinking, leading a classroom full of children to safety, at a public ceremony during this month’s meeting of Community Board 10. “I commend Christian Botte for springing into action and handling a frightening ordeal like a true professional,” Gentile said. “Our children’s safety must always come first, and Christian really went above and beyond…I know I’m not alone in considering Christian and IS 201 principal Robert Ciulla heroes in averting what could have been a real disaster.”
IS 201 (8010 Twelfth Avenue) is in the heart of school district 20, which includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach as well as parts of Bensonhurst, Sunset Park and Borough Park. The window had recently been installed as part of an ongoing renovation project overseen by the School Construction Authority (SCA). All the windows in the school were reinspected by a structural engineer before the school was allowed to reopen. Calls to the SCA seeking information on any action taken against the general contractor responsible for the faulty installation were unanswered at the time of this writing.