As he tells it, "a fifth-grader picked me up, and he body-slammed me into a tree."
Anthony Cataldo of Oakland first raised concerns about aggressive bullying at his son's elementary school last year after Zachary (pictured right) lost four teeth on the playground - but he said he received only a verbal assurance that things would change.
Cataldo said he complained again when some boys at school kicked 7-year-old Zachary in the stomach three months ago but got no response.
Now - two days after an older student slammed Zachary against a tree, fracturing his skull and sending the first-grader to intensive care - Cataldo is hiring a lawyer, and school officials are paying attention.
"This is the only way they'll listen," Cataldo said. "I'm scared for my son."
EDITOR'S NOTE: We put all of the blame on the parents of Zachary Cataldo. No sane parent would allow his small caucasian child to attend a violent majority black public school in a heavily non-white school district. This is not a case of bullying. This is a case of criminal battery. While black students are hard enough on each other, we can only imagine how strongly race was a motivating factor on the attacks of this small boy. Of course, SF Gate made no effort to investigate or mention such a possibility.
State records show that Piedmont Avenue Elementary is Oakland's second-most-violent elementary school, recording 97 suspensions last year for violence - including nine involving a weapon.
That level of danger is higher than at most middle and high schools in the district as well.
"It's a major concern," said Denise Saddler, an Oakland Unified School District administrator in charge of elementary schools in North and West Oakland.
Saddler said she will address Monday's violence at Piedmont Avenue, but she called it a personnel matter and declined to discuss details.
She said that an investigation of the incident that sent Zachary to Children's Hospital is under way and that no student will be punished until the facts have been gathered.
Principal Angela Haick declined to comment on Cataldo's assertions that his complaints fell on deaf ears or to discuss Monday's incident.
It happened after school as Zachary waited for a ride.