MILFORD, CT—In an incident that sent shockwaves through the halls of Milford East Elementary School, sixth-grade hall monitor Alex Greibe was brutally pushed into the girls' restroom Tuesday, midway through his normal third-period rounds.
"I was down by Mrs. Talcott's room, bending over to pick up a candy wrapper, when some guys snuck up behind me and shoved me right through the bathroom door," said Greibe, 11. "There I was, trapped where no sixth-grade boy had ever been before."
Inside the girls' room, since nicknamed "the Greibe's room," were three female classmates—Janie Lewis and Patricia Henderson, standing by the sinks, and an unidentified party wearing white-and-black Avia tennis shoes, using the furthest stall.
"I was fixing my hair by the mirror when Alex Dweebie [Greibe] came flying right into the bathroom," Lewis told a table of horrified sixth-grade girls during lunch. "I was, like, 'Boys are not allowed in here, creepo. Get out now!'"
Lewis and Henderson, who screamed for the entire 21 seconds Greibe was in the bathroom, threw combs and lip gloss at the intruder before running into an empty stall together and locking it.
Greibe maintains he was doing his best to exit the restroom.
"I tried to get out, but I couldn't get the door open," said Greibe, who suspects that one of the assailants had the rubber toe of his tennis shoe lodged under the door. "There wasn't even a window I could have climbed out of."
The girls' screams, paired with Greibe's frantic pounding on the door, finally brought principal Inez Williams to the scene. The guilty parties, who most likely heard Williams' high heels clicking down the hall, were gone before she rounded the corner.
"I arrived just seconds too late to see who was responsible," Williams said. "And if Alex has any idea who they were, he's not talking. It's almost as if he would rather see the whole thing dropped than see them punished."
Although no information has surfaced regarding the identity of the assailants, other details of the incident began circulating at six-minute break.
"I guess Alex is admitting he's a girl," said Lance Peterson, 12, after news of the assault reached the upstairs hallway. "When I see him, I'm going to call him 'Mrs. Greibe.'"
The female students at Milford East were less calm about the event.
"It is absolutely gross that a boy would go in the girls' room," said Michelle Fetzer, 11. "Alex might as well just move to a different school now that this has happened."
Teachers and administration at Milford East are questioning what would prompt the cruel shoving incident. The most obvious answer is Greibe's position of power in the school.
Besides escorting the developmentally disabled students back and forth between the special-ed classroom and any mainstream classes they attend, as hall monitor it is Greibe's job to check passes, deliver summons to the office, keep an eye out for littering, and make sure the soda machine is not being used while third-period classes are in session.
There has been a marked increase in anti-Greibe violence at the school since he accepted the post in January, say Milford East janitorial staff sources. The last month alone has seen more than 10 incidents of tripping, notebook-swatting, gum-throwing, garbage-can-dumping and, last week, the theft of a hall-monitor belt from Greibe's locker.
In addition, Greibe's position of authority often places him in direct conflict with students, some of whom may later seek revenge.
Just last week, when Greibe ordered Eric Nakamura to present a hall pass, the sixth-grader continued down the hall, holding up his middle finger as he walked away. After finding that his actions had been reported to Principal Williams, Nakamura approached Greibe in the multi-media center and told him he'd "be sorry."
"Alex is always walking around with a stack of morning announcements like he's hot shit," said Nakamura, who was cleared of suspicion after proving he was in the computer lab at the time Greibe was assaulted. "He's not special. Anyone can be a dumb hall monitor if they're stupid enough to want to waste their study-hall time."
An unnamed sixth-grade source suggested that the shove could have been in response to Greibe ruining the curve on last week's social-studies exam, or simply due to the fact that he is "such a wuss in gym."
Whatever the cause, Milford East staff is taking measures to prevent hall-monitor abuse from occurring in the future. These include stricter library rules, shorter bathroom breaks and the elimination of the traditional oversized key-shaped wooden hall passes, which did not leave teachers with a written record of who has left the classroom.
Although many students dislike the new restrictions, girls who use the first-floor bathroom say they are relieved. Several have approached the school counselor demanding that Greibe be forced to "sign something promising that he won't come in and stare at us again."
Greibe maintains he "didn't do it on purpose," and stated that shock played a part in his inability to communicate that fact at the time.
"It was really weird in there," Greibe said. "Everything is facing the exact opposite way as the stuff in the boys' bathroom, but there's no urinals and, like, period machines on the wall."
"That's not all," he added. "It smelled nice in there, like flowers, and there's nothing written on the walls. And there weren't any paper towels on the floor. It was a whole different world."