New York Daily News: Sex predators remain in NYC schools thanks to discipline system, group finds

Many school workers busted for creepy behavior have been able to hang onto their jobs because of a cumbersome disciplinary process, says ex-CNN anchor Campbell Brown’s statewide group, the Parents Transparency Project. Data obtained by Brown and the Daily News show that out of 128 school staff members who’ve engaged in sexual misconduct or inappropriate relationships with students since 2007, just 33 were actually fired.

Corinne Lestch and Ben Chapman

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Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown heads New York statewide advocacy group the Parents Transparency Project, which has found that the disciplinary process for teachers accused of sexual misconduct to be lacking. ‘The details of these cases are hidden,’ Brown said. ‘Many parents have no idea whether one of these teachers has been entrusted with their children.’ The group is set to launch an ad campaign Monday to pressure union leaders, New York City officials and state lawmakers.

Dozens of sexual predators are still working in New York City schools because of a broken disciplinary system that allows abusive staff members to keep their jobs, says a new advocacy group headed by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown.

Data obtained by Brown and the Daily News show that officials tried to fire 128 school staffers for sexual misconduct or inappropriate relationships with students since 2007 — but only 33 educators were actually fired.

Many of the school workers busted for creepy classroom behavior have been able to hang onto their jobs for years because of a cumbersome disciplinary process, charges Brown’s statewide group, the Parents Transparency Project.

“The details of these cases are hidden,” Brown said. “Many parents have no idea whether one of these teachers has been entrusted with their children.”

State law mandates that an independent hearing officer, selected by the city and the teachers union, determines the punishment of an educator found to have committed misconduct.

Such a hearing, called a 3020-a, is a minitrial with attorneys on both sides arguing before the state-paid arbitrator, often a retired judge.

Sex abuse in city schools grabbed headlines again last week with the arrest of hulking Bronx teacher Anthony Criscuolo, 40, who is accused of raping one of his 10-year-old students.

Criscuolo had a clean disciplinary record when he was arrested, but he had reportedly put a ring on the finger of his alleged victim, danced suggestively with her in class and took kids on unauthorized outings — the type of creepy, yet not criminal, behavior for which the city should be able to fire educators or remove them from the classroom, Brown’s group says.

The Parents Transparency Project, which also includes Horace Mann Survivors Group member Joseph Cumming on its board, is set to launch an ad campaign Monday to pressure union leaders, city officials and state lawmakers.

Only a tiny fraction of educators brought up on firing charges are terminated. In the 2011-12 school year, 223 were charged with all types of misconduct, but only 17 were fired.

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