Sex with a student?
By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO A Monticello high school teacher has been removed from the classroom pending a full investigation into allegations that he had sexual conduct with one of his female students.
District Superintendent Pat Michel told the Democrat yesterday that the teacher, who he declined to identify, allegedly had inappropriate relations with the 17-year-old over the weekend.
The incident happened off campus after the school-sanctioned senior prom.
Two female students confided their knowledge of the incident in two teachers on the high school staff on Wednesday, who immediately reported to Principal Arleene Siegel.
Siegel, in turn, reported it to central administration.
“Arleene Siegel did a really thorough, professional job,” noted Michel. “I’ve been in districts where everyone scurries the wagons and nothing really gets reported, but our staff was highly professional.”
Michel said Monticello Police were immediately called in, and the teacher, who is in his second year with the district, was removed from any duties that put him in contact with children.
Although he is a social studies teacher, Michel said he’s been temporarily reassigned.
He has not been fired, however, because the investigation is continuing.
That decision will rest in the hands of the board of education.
If the allegations prove true, the district will turn the matter over to the New York State Department of Education to consider whether the teacher should lose his license.
But despite the police being called in to investigate, Michel expressed his frustrations with New York State laws.
The girl in question is 17, putting her at the age of consent in New York. Although the accused is her teacher and ostensibly serves in a position of power over her, a state proposal to make illegal and sexual conduct between a teacher and student did not pass the Legislature when it came up a few years ago.
“They didn’t finish the job,” Michel said simply.
That puts his district and others at a distinct disadvantage when dealing with these issues, he said, because there are fewer legal paths.
The district has set into motion its counseling services available for students in case of traumatic events, and letters were sent home to district parents.
The teacher, who worked at the high school, was subject to background checks before he was hired by the district two years ago. He passed a criminal record check, provided professional and personal references and underwent fingerprinting.
Michel said the district has zero tolerance for incidents like those alleged in this instance, and if the allegations prove true, the district will act accordingly.