NYC Public Schools Fail to Address Ongoing Threat of Electronic Sexual Grooming by Educators

NYC Public Schools Fail to Address Ongoing Threat of Electronic Sexual Grooming by Educators

Despite repeated pleas from school investigators, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) has failed to address the ongoing threat of electronic sexual grooming by educators in NYC public schools, experts have warned. The DOE’s Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI) has filed at least 41 formal recommendations since 2018, urging city schools to ban teachers and staff from contacting students through personal cell phone numbers and social media accounts. However, the DOE has chosen to rely on toothless “social media guidelines” that merely discourage such interactions without prohibiting them.

Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, an expert in institutional sexual abuse and grooming, emphasized that there is no valid reason for teachers to contact students privately on their personal emails, cell phones, or social media accounts. Jeglic stated that texting is a crucial part of the grooming process, as abusers use it to establish an intimate connection and undermine parental guardianship.

A review of records by The Post reveals that over the past five years, the SCI has substantiated at least 89 cases of DOE employees engaging in inappropriate and often sexually-charged conversations with students through private text messages or personal social media accounts. One notable case occurred at Townsend Harris HS in Queens in 2021, where teacher Joseph Canzoneri, then 53, was found by SCI to have engaged in numerous inappropriate acts, including intercourse and oral sex, with teenage female students. The misconduct began with flirtatious texts and Instagram posts, leading to a pattern of grooming that threatened the well-being of the students involved.

Another case involved Natalie Black, a 26-year-old teacher at Hillside Arts and Letters Academy in Queens, who exchanged casual texts with a 17-year-old male student that quickly turned sexual. Black sent at least 15 explicit photos and videos of herself in lingerie or nude to the student, resulting in her termination.

In 2022, Aaliyah Paul, a 19-year-old paraprofessional at the Manhattan School for Career Development, displayed predatory behavior towards a 15-year-old male student. Within a 20-day period, Paul sent the student 90 text messages and referred to him as her “babyboy,” despite having served as a substitute in his school for less than a week. She was subsequently fired by the DOE.

Erinn Robinson of RAINN, the national anti-sexual violence organization, highlighted that the sexual abuse of minors often follows a gradual process involving desensitization, with texting playing an increasingly central role. Inappropriate conversations can escalate to more sexualized discussions once the perpetrator has tested the waters.

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

1 Response

  1. 1. Raise awareness: Share information about electronic sexual grooming with parents, students, and school staff. Educate them about the signs to look out for and the importance of reporting any suspicious behavior.

    2. Encourage open communication: Foster an environment where students feel comfortable discussing their concerns with trusted adults. Encourage schools to establish anonymous reporting systems or hotlines to ensure students can report incidents without fear of retaliation.

    3. Implement comprehensive training: Provide mandatory training for all school staff on recognizing and addressing electronic

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