NEW YORK – A record number of complaints poured in about New York City’s public school employees in 2015 – more than 5,500 complaints spawning nearly 900 investigations.
The Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District Richard Condon released statistics Wednesday that show a total of 5,566 complaints against school employees last year, the New York Daily News reports.
Those complaints led to a total of 898 investigations so far, on top of 885 the agency closed earlier in the year. About 26 percent of the completed investigations were substantiated.
“The number of sexual misconduct complaints for 2015 was 570 – roughly the same as the previous year when 582 complaints were received,” according to the news site.
The Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation 2015 Statistical Report shows “SCI received 570 complaints which included a sexual component; opened 217 investigations involving those allegations, and made substantiated findings in 21 percent of the sexual misconduct investigations conducted; and
“SCI monitored 512 referred complaints; of those, 262 became investigations conducted by SCI.”
The report states monitor cases originate with another agency, like the New York City Police.
“Sexual misconduct allegations include criminal acts, inappropriate relationships with students who have reached the age of consent, physical and verbal harassment of a sexual nature, and social media contact,” according to the report.
City education department spokeswoman Devora Kaye told the Daily News “Safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and we are committed to using all procedures and tools to keep school communities safe.
“There are protocols in place to aggressively and thoroughly investigate and address complaints, and we will continue to use these to serve students and families,” she said.
Education advocates have long complained about the sheer number of complaints, and time and expense required to investigate and remove bad teachers, who continue to collect their salaries for months or years as their cases drag through the system.
The New York Post in 2013 featured one such teacher, Queens high school music teacher Aryeh Eller, who allegedly confessed to sexually harassing female students and was removed from the classroom in 1999 after only one year.
A hearing officer ruled Eller wasn’t properly told his rights, and dismissed the case, leaving Eller to collect $1 million in salary and regular union-mandated raises to do nothing for well over a decade.
Parents and education reform advocates have advocated for giving the city’s chancellor the authority to terminate dangerous and sexually predatory school employees. The United Federation of Teachers, the city’s teachers union, has remained steadfastly opposed to expediting the process to remove the bad actors, and the union poured a lot of time and money into electing current NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.