Despite Cluster of Cases, Sexual Misconduct Complaints Are Down in NYC Schools

Recents arrests seem to indicate a spike, but complaints are down, data show.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Queens teaching assistant, Brett Picou, is charged with improperly touching six 9-year-old girls. Chris Glorioso reports. (Published Thursday, Feb 23, 2012)

    This week a fifth New York City school employee was arrested and accused of sex abuse involving students -- giving parents the impression that sexual misconduct has been on the rise in public schools.

    But according to data from the city's Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation, complaints about sexual misconduct in schools are on the downswing.

    In 2007, students made 619 complaints about sexually questionable conduct by school employees.  Last year that number was down to 561 complaints, a 9 percent decrease.

    There has been an even more sizable decrease in the percentage of sexual misconduct complaints investigators have been able to substantiate.

    In 2007, school investigators closed 209 sexual misconduct cases and found 46 percent of the complaints were valid.

    Last year, the rate of substantiation was down to 27 percent, a 19 percentage point decrease from four years prior.

    The Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation had no explanation for the lower rate of substantiated complaints.

    In the latest case, a Queen's teacher's aide was arrested Thursday and accused of improperly touching children at school. The previous week, a Bronx substitute teacher was charged with forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child.

    Also this month, a 49-year-old computer teacher at PS 174 in Rego Park, Queens, was arrested  on allegations he sexually abused two young boys at the school. 

    And a teacher's aide at PS 243 in Brooklyn was arrested for allegedly abusing children, including making pornography with them, and another teacher's aide at PS 87 on the Upper West Side was arrested Feb. 10 on suspicion he sexually abused a child at the school.