On Wednesday, NY1 told you about a mother's fight to get authorities to investigate whether something terrible had happened to her young son at school, and that the Department of Education decided to take no action. In Part 2 of her report, Lindsey Christ discusses why the DOE made that decision and where the case stands now.
On April 12, the mother of a kindergartner called P.S. 42. She said she didn't know exactly what had happened to her son, but was sure something had.
She said that two days earlier, she'd found her 5-year-old in the school's dark auditorium, far away from the other children, with a male teacher she didn't know.
The boy had been extremely upset, and still was, not sleeping and becoming upset when his mother even looked at him. All he would say was that the teacher claimed to be a police officer and told him that good officers take good care of you, rubbed his back in the auditorium, took him to a bathroom alone and told him not to tell his mother.
At P.S. 42, the parent coordinator, assistant principal, attendance coordinator and principal, Patricia Finn, all heard the mother's story.
"No one offered any help," the mother said.
That's because the DOE says they determined the allegation was not "sexual in nature" and did not need to be passed on to investigators.
There's a strict protocol all DOE employees must follow when there are allegations of sexual misconduct.
"If there's some type of abuse allegation, which includes sexual abuse, we have a responsibility to report it," said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. "We're all mandated reporters."
They can't just report it to anyone. They have to tell the Special Commissioner of Investigations an independent agency.
"The knowing failure of an employee or officer to report said misconduct is cause for removal from office or employment," according to Chancellor's Regulation A-750.
If the allegation was about sexual misconduct, what would have happened to the teacher?
"That individual will be removed from a classroom or removed from the assignment while the investigation is taking place," Walcott said.
In this case, though, the teacher remained at the school.
So when no one else acted, the mother filed a report with the special commissioner herself. She got in touch with the superintendent and emailed the chancellor. She also went to the police. But she said her son didn't say much when the New York City Police Department tried interview him.
The department says that neither the mother nor child were reporting sexual abuse at that time, so the allegation was regarded to be of child abuse.
The police won't say if the case is still open.
"I've gone to so many people for help," the mother said.
Then, in August, there were two developments. The DOE says the teacher was let go after failing to earn tenure, though he remains eligible to reapply. Also, the mother says her son opened up, telling her the teacher took off both their clothes and touched him.
Now, the special investigator's office says it's back on the case.