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Sunday, August 22, 2021

NYC Department of Education Settles With Four Students Who Claimed They Were Sexually Abused at Their School.


Tweed- NYC Department of Education 

The Office of Special Investigations is a unit of the NYC DOE's Office of General Counsel where so-called "investigations" are anything but that. We have been writing about OSI for a very long time, and we have seen proof at 3020-a hearings of exactly what misconduct by this agency looks like. OSI never investigates students, only staff, educators, and parents. Online Occurrence Reports System (OORS) reports go nowhere but to the desk drawer of an administrator.

I will give you a few examples:

A teacher gives a high school girl in his physical education class a failing grade. Soon after, a complaint of sexual abuse is filed against him by this girl. The complaint is sent to first the Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI), then SCI randomly hands the case to OSI. The OSI "investigator" comes to the school and talks with the principal, who tells this "investigator" what to find and whom to interview. The principal wants the teacher removed from the school to please the parents, and show that "perverts" are not allowed to teach. Whether there is any truth to the allegation is not considered.

The "investigator" is given a room where he/she "interviews" the students sent there by the principal. The students/staff chosen to be interviewed often write statements or sign statements written for them, substantiating whatever "crime" the principal wants to be proven. Statements that have too many details about the incident and how the teacher was not guilty of doing anything (exactly what the principal does not want in the final report substantiating the misconduct) are not put into the report, lost, or ripped up.

The "investigator" hands his/her handwritten notes to an attorney or higher up at OSI who writes the report based upon what the principal wants to prove, and the alleged 'crime' is substantiated, if that is what the principal wants or was told by the Superintendent or Chancellor's rep. that that's what they want.

Then the principal calls in the teacher who allegedly committed the 'crime' and has a disciplinary meeting. At this meeting, the principal and/or UFT Rep. may tell the teacher "this may lead to your termination" and/or "this will be a letter to file, don't worry". The teacher is led to believe that there is no need to write a rebuttal, because this is the end of it. Make note of the fact that nothing the accused teacher says is heard ("listened to" is different than "being heard"), and no amount of "I am innocent" "I did not do this" will make any difference. The accused teacher should write a detailed rebuttal and send it to everyone at the meeting by the next day, or within a few days. No one will tell you this from the UFT.

These lies told to the accused at the disciplinary meeting help the lawyer at the District to craft Technical Assistance Conference (TAC) memos, which become charges. The lawyers at the Office of Legal Services (NYC DOE Office of General Counsel) send the "Notice of Determination of Probable Cause Pursuant to Education Law 3020-a" to the principal (or, sometimes the Superintendent) to sign but not date. The principal sends the signed fraudulent notice back to the lawyer writing the charges, who dates all the papers and takes the rest of the papers (i.e. "Rights of Tenured Educators" ) off a shelf. 

The teacher who was accused of wrongdoing is served the charges, re-assigned to a rubber room, and within 10 days must submit his/her request to the UFT for a 3020-a hearing or be voted out and terminated by the Panel For Educational Policy (PEP). All this occurs despite the fraudulent charging procedure without proper determination of probable cause by the PEP in an Executive Session, which is kept secret. Why? Because both the NYC DOE and the UFT have kept the fraud going for 20 years since Bloomberg put the NYC DOE under Mayoral control. If either the NYC DOE or UFT agrees that the charging process is illegally done, then what happens to all the 3020-a cases brought to a hearing in NYC? (Outside NYC, all charges have a vote on probable cause by the school board before the charges are served on the accused educator, as cited in Education Law 3020-a(2)(a)).

The lies of the charging process are held onto and pursued against the interests of the accused educator as part of the goal to get rid of tenure. Thus, the fraud of OSI doing any "real" investigations was never planned or allowed, unless the accused knows someone in the political sphere of the DOE or NYC/federal government. It's always a matter of who you know, not what you know. Under no circumstances could the NYC DOE allow charged educators to go free or be found not guilty after a complaint is made by a staff member, parent or child.

See previous posts:

The Chancellor's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) Mess

Secret Emails About Office of Special Investigations Being in Chaos 2014


The New York City Department of Education has settled a case with four students who claim the school system failed to protect them against sexual harassment and assault, according to a settlement brief filed in the U.S. District Court of Eastern New York on Friday. Along with a $700,000 monetary settlement split amongst the plaintiffs, the education department also agreed to reform how it investigates and responds to allegations of sexual assault.

“I want justice for everybody,” said the mother of “Jane Doe,” a student with autism who alleged she was raped by a classmate in a school stairwell in the Bronx in 2018.

“Due to that traumatic event, my child suffers every day,” the mother said in an interview with WNYC/Gothamist. She added that the settlement won’t “cure” what happened to her child, but it may prevent others from suffering.

Legal Services NYC filed the suit representing four female students of color with disabilities in spring 2019. Their names have been withheld because of their ages and the nature of the incidents. At the time of the assaults, the students ranged from ages 12 to 18.

Jane Doe and another plaintiff alleged they were raped by classmates after harassment that intensified over months. Two other plaintiffs claimed they were taunted, groped and assaulted by other students.

The suit alleges that, even though the students had been repeatedly harassed by their peers leading up to the assaults, the schools did not intervene effectively, investigate adequately or notify parents in a timely manner. The education department’s “indifference and inaction” denied students their right to education under Title IX and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the lawsuit read.

The education department had already tightened some policies. In fall 2019, it rolled out new regulations expanding the definition of what constitutes sexual harassment, explaining how administrators should conduct investigations, and outlining some supports for students who come forward. The New York City Council increased funding in the Fiscal Year 2020 city budget to pay for additional Title IX liaisons tasked with overseeing investigations at the borough level. The education department also ramped up training for thousands of staff members, including school-based “Sexual Harassment Prevention Liaisons.”

The new settlement seeks to strengthen those regulations even more. They would make it easier for parents to escalate complaints. They detail the steps school staff must take to inform parents when an alleged incident occurs. They enable students to be transferred from a school because of alleged sexual harassment. And they offer more specifics on how schools should support survivors, including considering trauma when crafting a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

“Every student deserves to feel safe, welcomed, and affirmed in their school and there is zero tolerance for sexual and gender-based harassment of any kind at the DOE,” education department spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon said in a statement. “We have made it easier to report harassment and provided more robust trainings for staff so that the strongest safeguards are in place for all students, especially for our students with disabilities.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs lauded the changes.

“We believe this settlement will better equip school personnel to respond to the trauma of bullying and sexual violence, and will provide critical information to students and families about their rights under the law,” said Amy Leipziger, Senior Staff Attorney at Queens Legal Services.

“These landmark policy reforms will finally force the DOE to recognize that students who experience the disabling impacts of sexual violence, bullying, and trauma are protected under federal disability law and are entitled to receive special education supports and other interventions,” said Katrina Feldkamp, a Staff Attorney at Bronx Legal Services.

The mother of “Jane Doe” said her daughter, now 17, remains traumatized.

“She has her breakdowns,” said the mother. “She can’t focus as she did before. She lost a lot of interest in a lot of things, she’s depressed, she has nightmares.”

“Money will not bring peace to our life,” she added. “We need action.”