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Schools watchdog begs DOE to ban teacher-student texting in effort to stop sex abuse

Electronic sexual grooming by educators is an ongoing menace to college students in NYC public faculties — regardless of dozens of pleas from faculty investigators for DOE to stop student-teacher cell-phone contact, consultants instructed The Post.

Since 2018, the DOE’s Special Commissioner of Investigation has filed at the least 41 formal suggestions urging metropolis faculties to ban academics and staffers from contacting college students‘ personal cell phone numbers and social media accounts — most recently in a case filed April 16, records show.

But the DOE has refused to take heed, relying instead on toothless “social media guidelines” that “discourage,” but do not prohibit, such interactions.

A white man in a baseball hat and sunglasses smiles with his hands on his hips.
SCI determined that Joseph Canzoneri engaged in “numerous inappropriate acts” involving teenage female students.

“There is no reason that teachers should be contacting students privately on their private emails, on their private cell phones, especially on their social media,” said Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who researches institutional sexual abuse and grooming.

Texting is “part of the grooming process,”Jeglic said, a uniquely intimate form of contact that abusers use to “usurp parental guardianship.”

In the last five years, SCI has substantiated at least 89 cases of DOE employees using private text messages or personal social media accounts to have inappropriate, often sexually-charged conversations with students, The Post’s evaluate of the data reveals.

The face of a Black woman with red hair.
Casual texts that trainer Natalie Black exchanged with a 17-year-old male scholar rapidly grew to become sexual. youtube.com
Sexting on mobile phone.
In the final 5 years, SCI has substantiated at the least 89 instances of DOE staff utilizing non-public textual content messages or private social media accounts to have inappropriate. Bits and Splits – inventory.adobe.com

Top-ranked Townsend Harris HS in Queens was rocked by scandal in 2021 when scholar journalists revealed that trainer Joseph Canzoneri, then 53, had been discovered by SCI to have engaged in “numerous inappropriate acts” involving teenage feminine college students, together with intercourse and oral sex — all beginning with flirtatious texts and Instagram posts.

“Canzoneri’s actions with these students indicates a pattern of ‘grooming’ . . . that threatens the wellbeing of these and other students,” Special Commissioner of Investigation Anastasia Coleman wrote in her report.

The identical 12 months, informal texts that Natalie Black, 26, a trainer at Hillside Arts and Letters Academy in Queens, exchanged with a 17-year-old male scholar rapidly grew to become sexual, as Black despatched at the least 15 raunchy photographs and movies of herself “in lingerie or [in the] nude” to the boy, prompting her firing, The Post reported.

 Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic.
Texting is “part of the grooming process,” Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic stated.
CUNY.edu
Since 2018, the DOE's Special Commissioner of Investigation has filed recommendations urging city schools to ban teachers and staffers from contacting students' personal cell phone number, according to reports.
Since 2018, the DOE’s Special Commissioner of Investigation has filed suggestions urging metropolis faculties to ban academics and staffers from contacting college students’ private cellular phone quantity, in accordance to experiences.
Helayne Seidman

In 2022, paraprofessional Aaliyah Paul, then 19, displayed “predatory” conduct towards a 15-year-old male scholar on the Manhattan School for Career Development, SCI discovered, texting him 90 occasions in a 20-day interval and calling him her “babyboy” after serving instead in his faculty for lower than per week. She was fired, in accordance to DOE.

Sexual abuse of minors is “often a gradual process that involves desensitization,” stated Erinn Robinson of RAINN, the nationwide anti-sexual violence group, who added that texting more and more performs a central function.

“It may start with inappropriate conversation that leads to more sexualized conversation” as soon as the perpetrator “has tested the waters,” she stated.

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