Parents at the prestigious Salk School of Science middle school in Gramercy Park are outraged after two former students alleged online that an unnamed teacher there had sexually assaulted them, according to the New York Post.
The accusations were posted anonymously on Instagram last month, and since then have gone viral among parents at the small, well-ranked school for sixth through eighth graders.
During a school town hall meeting held on Zoom on Thursday—attended by an estimated 300 parents—Principal Rhonda Perry faced a barrage of angry questions about the teacher they believe is the subject of the accusations, according to the initials one accuser had used online.
Parents proceeded to demand that this teacher be pulled from leading in-person classes at the East 20th Street school, according to multiple sources who were in on the Zoom meeting.
Perry said she could not do so—though she confirmed that “an investigation” into the allegations is ongoing by both the NYPD and the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools, according to the New York Post.
“We have no credible evidence your child is unsafe,” Perry noted, according to parent sources who attended the Zoom meeting.
“We are waiting to hear from the Chancellor’s office about the determination and outcome and once we know that we’ll inform you,” she also told parents, according to the sources.
“Once again we are proceeding with the understanding that the investigation is underway,” the principal added.
“All staffing matters are determined by the DOE,” she said. “In other words, it’s not my decision.”
The lack of action on the part of the principal has led some parents to pull their students from classes taught by the accused teacher, whose name is being withheld by The Post due to not yet being confirmed by the accusers or by officials.
“The lack of guidance from principal Perry for parents and for students to understand how this situation is being handled makes me very uncomfortable about sending my child to seventh grade,” one astonished parent told The Post.
In the Instagram posts that started the controversy, one student—who did not use a name or reveal their gender—stated that an unnamed teacher allegedly forced them into oral sex in exchange for a passing grade two years ago.
The second accuser noted that last year, the same teacher tried to pull down their leggings while offering private “homework help.”
The Post attempted to reach out to the accused Salk faculty member but was unsuccessful.
When asked about the investigation, a Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson issued the following statement: “Student safety is our top priority, and this deeply disturbing allegation was immediately reported to SCI.”
“Due to the anonymous nature of the complaint, there is little known at this time, but we are closely monitoring the investigation and will take swift follow-up action as appropriate.”
“We encourage those who have allegations to report them to the appropriate authority.”
The Post said that additional staff and school safety agents will be in the school building and in classrooms as in-person classes begin, one administrative source said.
The New York City school system has garnered a reputation of turning a blind eye to alleged sexual assault cases, with the New York Post reporting in 2019 that a 13-year-old boy had repeatedly harassed a young girl at school, adding that the school only gave him detention without telling the girl’s parents.
A second example came in late 2019, when it was reported that “a group of boys punched a … 13-year-old … and harassed her throughout her sixth-grade year,” adding that “a boy tried to put his fingers in her vagina on three separate occasions, according to the complaint. When she reported the first assault to an assistant dean at the school, he allegedly said, ‘oh, he just likes you.'”