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Parents poured into P.S. 87 on the Upper West Side Monday following the arrest of a teacher's aide accused of sexually abusing a student. Katherine Creag reports.
Hundreds of parents at an Upper West Side public school are demanding answers from the city's top education officials after a teacher's aide was arrested on suspicion that he sexually abused a child at the school.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, along with representatives from the Manhattan District Attorney's office and school leaders, met with about 500 concerned parents at PS 87 Monday to address the criminal sex charges filed against Gregory Atkins.
The 56-year-old was charged Friday with attempted criminal sex acts and other sex abuse charges relating to an incident with an underage student at the school, police said. Atkins is accused of behaving inappropriately toward the child on at least two occasions on school premises.
Walcott vowed to due his "due diligence" investigating the allegations.
Meanwhile, parents are having conversations with their children about the situation.
Andrew Newby, one of the hundreds of parents to attend Monday's meeting, showed his son of photo of Atkins and asked him if he knew the aide.
"He said, 'Yeah!' My heart jumped," said Newby.
When Newby asked how his son knew Atkins, the boy said he saw him around school -- a factor that has many parents frightened their children were in such close proximity to an alleged child sex abuser.
"I was saddened, very frightened. It hurt me in my heart aside," said William Davila, another parent who attended the meeting. "I would never expect that in a school like this."
Atkins has been reassigned to a central Department of Education office where he won't have contact with children. He worked at the West 78th Street school since 2009 and for the Department of Education since 2001.
This is not the first time Atkins has been accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student.
In 2006, the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the schools recommended that Atkins be disciplined for a series of inappropriate gestures toward a student.
The arrest comes days after another public school teacher's aide has been accused of making child pornography at the Crown Heights school where he worked.