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Town Hall on Sexual Misconduct in Schools Postponed

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - 03:05 PM

A public meeting on sexual misconduct in the schools which was scheduled for August 23rd has been postponed until the fall. No new date has yet been scheduled.

Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union, said it was simply too difficult lining up panel members during the summer doldrums.

"My parents really want to reschedule the town hall," she said. "They believe this is a huge issue that should be addressed after school begins because many parents are not around or busy with school shopping. They want to notify parents at their schools and do outreach for the event on a large scale."

She said she is awaiting confirmation of a reschedule date for late October or early November at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

The meeting was organized by the New York City Parents Union following the controversy over former television journalist Campbell Brown's editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

Ms. Brown claimed arbitrators go too easy on teachers accused of misconduct, prompting a swift reaction from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten that reverberated through cyberspace via Twitter under the hashtag #protectourkids.

Ms. Davids said the debate only left many parents, including herself, with more questions about how sexual misconduct cases are investigated.

"The giants are fighting," she said, "and they're talking about this issue going on in our schools but nobody has talked about really engaging our parents and talking about what the process is."

Ms. Davids said she wants to know more about how cases are investigated by the police department and the Special Commissioner of Investigations for the New York City schools, which says it's getting more complaints.

After several high profile incidents this year, Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott reviewed hundreds of old cases, leading to the removal of eight staff members this year. He also made it easier for principals to see when employees have a history of misconduct investigations.

Ms. Davids had been hoping to attract Campbell Brown, Chancellor Walcott and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew to the event this week, along with representatives from the Administration for Children's Services. She said Ms. Brown had a scheduling problem, and personally reached out to offer future support. She said A.C.S. and Mr. Mulgrew were planning to send senior representatives but that the chancellor's office told her he could not attend. She claimed she didn't hear back from Local 372, which represents non-teaching staffers, or the principals' union.

"We will be extending an invitation to them again with a reschedule date once school begins," said Ms. Davids.

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