New Haven Public Schools are starting the year off with a whopping 17 teachers and support staff on paid administrative leave while under various misconduct investigations. The embattled teachers and staff hail from schools across the district.
“It’s shocking to me now that I’m hearing about it,” said NHPS student Niygere Wicker.
“That’s a lot,” said Vernette Bond. “Yeah, I think that’s a lot.”
Records obtained only by News 8’s Mario Boone show four employees are under investigation for failure to report suspected abuse, seven are accused of inappropriate or unprofessional conduct and six are blamed for physical misconduct.
We sat down with New Haven Federation of Teachers President David Cicarella. “Anyone could pick up the phone at any time and say anything,” he said. “I can go to my phone and call in something about you and that would trigger a DCF investigation.” Cicarella was quick to point out most teachers are eventually cleared of wrongdoing, and the current 17 investigations is in contrast to 3,000 employees.
“We have less than 2 percent substantiations,” Cicarella said.
Schools Superintendent Carol Birks is laying down the law in her first year on the job. She wasn’t available to go on camera, but she released a statement saying in part, “…Our most important priorities are the safety of our students and the continuity of high quality instruction.”
Yet, Bond, the New Haven resident, is concerned about teachers getting paid to stay home. “If they’re under investigation I don’t think they should be paid for that,” Bond said. “Why would you pay somebody if they’re being investigated?”
But Cicarella said paid administrative leave is no vacation. “That teacher is working from home providing lesson plans, correcting papers, providing guidance to the substitute.”
Here’s the full statement from the superintendent schools for suspended workers to be dropped:
“New Haven Public Schools cannot comment on specific personnel matters. However, as a School District, our most important priorities are the safety of our students and the continuity of high quality instruction. The New Haven Public Schools works closely with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to assure that our staff members follow all local, state and national laws, policies, and standards to safeguard students. To that end, we have regular meetings and trainings with DCF, and in specific cases we work closely with DCF and, where necessary, law enforcement to assure that all reports are investigated promptly and thoroughly.”
Schools with suspended teachers or staff include:
(Source: Dr. Carol Birks, New Haven Public Schools)
- Wexler Grant School
- Troup School
- Lincoln Bassett School
- Quinnipiac School
- Hillhouse High School
- Brennan Rogers
- Lincoln Bassett
- Hill Central
- Barnard School
- John Martinez School
- Mauro Sheridan School
- King Robinson School
- West Rock Academy