Updated 06/15/2012 11:11 PM
Schools Chancellor Addresses Latest DOE Sexual Abuse Arrest
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The city's schools chancellor met Friday morning with parents and staff at PS 20 in Harlem to address their concerns following the latest arrest of a teacher on sexual abuse charges.
Prosecutors say Rafael Sosa attacked the 8-year-old girl several times a week on school property.
The 29-year-old started working at the Harlem school in September 2009.
Parents say they weren't formally told of the allegations.
But one parent says Sosa is a well-liked teacher.
"Kids love him, parents do adore him. Saturday schools he was here - every Saturday faithfully, getting the kids prepared for the statewide test. There was nothing that I can say really he showed any sign of molestation or anything," said one parent.
"I'm just disgusted. I'm angry. I'm upset," said another parent. "I haven't heard from the school, no one's called me from the school to state that this had happened at all."
Speaking to reporters, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the proper protocols were followed and that the investigation is ongoing.
"Law enforcement then with this particular case did their investigation, once they felt there was gonna be an arrest imminent they contacted us. That took place Wednesday late afternoon, Wednesday evening," Walcott said. "Once we heard about that we reached out to the school I came up and met with the principal yesterday morning around 8 o'clock, the DA's office wanted to come in to sit down with the staff, we backpacked letters home yesterday afternoon for the meeting today."
Walcott says he assured parents their kids are safe and that there is no epidemic of child abuse in the system.
"We've had a slight uptick this year, but again with more publicity, more people come forward," Walcott added.
"They need to put accountability systems in place to protect our kids. Instead, they're saying the schools are safe, and parents need to watch out," said Education Council Member Noah Gotbaum.
Sosa is the 12th New York City school employee to face sexual charges this year.
Walcott stressed the DOE is pushing for state legislation that would allow him to judge cases alleging child abuse, then fire a teacher he considers a threat.
Sosa is due back in court next week.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education and the Teachers Union exchanged barbs on who is to blame for the recent sexual misconduct cases in city schools.
In a letter, United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew decried the Department of Education's screening process for not being thorough enough and letting bad applicants slip through the cracks.
In response, the Department of Education said "the UFT should stop protecting teachers who engage in sexual misconduct with students and support the legislation to fire these teachers.”