New York City's Department of Education Closed Hundreds of School Sex Harassment Cases Without Review
The Department failed to determine whether “hundreds of sexual harassment” cases in the school system were “legitimate” despite the department closing investigations of those cases, the New York Daily News reports. Between 2014 and 2017, the city obtained “conclusive findings” on 21 of 338 sexual harassment investigations.
New York City’s Education Department failed to determine whether “hundreds of sexual harassment” cases in the school system were “legitimate” despite the department closing investigations of those cases, the New York Daily News reports. Between 2014 and 2017, the city obtained “conclusive findings” on 21 of 338 sexual harassment investigations. Of the 21 cases with findings, 14 were deemed unsubstantiated and only seven were deemed substantial claims. Two hundred forty-nine of the investigations without findings ended because “the accuser withdraw the charges,” which may be a requirement for those seeking a settlement with the city. Between 2013 and 2017, the department substantiated less than 2 percent of all harassment complaints. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the number was so low due to a “hyper-complaint dynamic” but later walked back his remarks and said, “Every single person who has the courage to come forward with a sexual harassment complaint deserves to be believed.”
City closed hundreds of school sex harassment cases with no findings
NY DAILY NEWS, Ben Chapman, August 8, 2018
Are accusations of sexual harassment in the public schools true? If you want to know the answer, don’t ask the city.
Education Department investigators failed to determine whether hundreds of sexual harassment charges in the city school system were legitimate, despite closing probes of the cases, official data shows.
The city reached conclusive findings in just 21 of 338 sexual harassment probes completed between 2014 and 2017, according to figures provided by the Education Department.
Of those 21 cases, seven were substantiated and 14 were unsubstantiated — meaning the accusations couldn’t be proven to be true.
But the remaining 317 probes — representing nearly 94% of cases closed during that period — did not reach a conclusions.
“Giving victims a platform to speak up and tell their stories only works if they feel protected from retaliation,” said former Robert Wagner High School Principal Annie Seifullah, who is litigating a sexual discrimination suit against the city.
“In my experience, most DOE employees do not feel protected in this way,” she added. “It’s shocking that people in power are still questioning claims made by those brave enough to speak up.”
Of those cases that were closed without a finding, 249 were ended because the accuser withdrew the charges, something that may be stipulated as a condition of a settlement with the city.
Education Department spokesman Douglas Cohen said the agency takes each allegation of harassment seriously.
“We have strict protocols in place to ensure that every allegation of sexual harassment is thoroughly investigated, and we’re hiring additional investigators to address allegations more quickly and ensure appropriate disciplinary action where there is wrongdoing,” Cohen said.
“We address each case based on the evidence,” he added.
City officials have been tracking sex harassment scandals in schools since April, when Mayor de Blasio published figures showing 471 sexual harassment complaints from 2013 to 2017.
Stats showed the DOE substantiated less than 2% those complaints, a relatively low number that de Blasio blamed on a "hyper-complaint dynamic" in the city agency.
He later walked back those comments on Twitter, writing that “every single person who has the courage to come forward with a sexual harassment complaint deserves to be believed.”
City schools Chancellor Richard Carranza was at the center of a $75,000 sexual discrimination settlement in San Francisco, where he was a superintendent before coming to New York.
Carranza has denied the claims in that suit, and de Blasio has said he doesn’t believe them.