NEW ROCHELLE, NY — A New Rochelle public school teacher has alleged she was sexually assaulted in her classroom. The incident occurred during the school day. Police were not called to the school and no charges were filed.
Multiple sources have confirmed that a female teacher made an immediate complaint to her building principal and her union representative after a male behavioral consultant, hired by the special education department to work in her classroom, rubbed his hand up and down her spine and unsnapped the clasp of her bra.
The consultant, who is certified in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), claimed to be demonstrating a technique to calm an agitated child. Interviews with ABA experts and research by Talk of the Sound raise significant doubts as to whether rubbing a child’s spine is a recognized technique for calming a child in tantrum or meltdown. Some ABA-based techniques are used to address behaviors associated with autism and related spectrum disorders but many autistic children react negatively to light touching. Regardless, “demonstrating” any light touching technique on an unwilling adult would be inappropriate according to every ABA-expert contacted by Talk of the Sound. There is no technique that would explain unsnapping a clasp on a bra.
There are differing accounts of what took place next but one source says the initial reaction was that the building principal sought guidance from central office officials who directed the principal to ignore the complaint and return the consultant to the classroom over the objections of the teacher. Multiple sources agree that a meeting subsequently took place in the school, but not in the classroom, after which the consultant was told not to return to the school.
Talk of the Sound has full details of the incident but as a policy does not disclose the identity of victims unless they come forward on their own. As no charges were filed with the police, Talk of the Sound is not identifying the alleged perpetrator at this time either.
Whether the consultant continues to work elsewhere in the District was not immediately clear.
Talk of the Sound is awaiting a response to a Freedom of Information request for contracts, invoices and payments involving the consultant, by name, and his consulting company. The consultant is the founder and owner of the company which has operated out of offices in the area for more than 15 years. Talk of the Sound has also requested records that would demonstrate whether or not the consultant had a required fingerprint-based criminal background check before working in a classroom.
The alleged incident raises a number of questions:
1. Were students in the classroom at the time of the alleged incident?
2. Were parents of children in that classroom or in that school notified of the alleged incident?
2. After the teacher made her allegation why were the police not immediately called to the school?
3. Did the consultant pass a required criminal background check?
4. Who hired the consultant?
5. Has the consultant been retained by the District and/or reassigned to another classroom?
6. Did the consultant work in other classrooms and did the District contact teachers in those classrooms to determine if similar incidents occurred?
7. Who at central office knew of the allegation and what actions did they take in response; in particular what was the role of Director of Special Education Dara Joseph, Human Resources Director Joseph Williams and Chief Academic Officer (and now Interim Superintendent) Dr. Magda Parvey.
8. Who, if anyone, instructed the building principal to take no action and return the consultant to the classroom?
9. If instructed not to take action by central office officials, why did the building principal follow those instructions over the objections of the teacher?
10. What role did F.U.S.E. play in protecting the interests of the teacher, a union member.