More than 100 city teachers, administrators and other school staffers have been caught in the last five years engaging in sexual or “inappropriate” relationships with students, The Post has learned.
The special commissioner of investigation for city schools, Richard Condon, has fielded 593 complaints about such illicit relationships since April 2009. His office substantiated 104 cases, it revealed Friday.
“I’m absolutely stunned at that number,” said Laura Timoney, a Community Education Council member whose 15-year-old daughter attends a city high school on Staten Island. “It’s shocking, but what do you do to stop this?”
Social media and smartphones have fueled the epidemic of hookups, experts say, with teachers and students easily able to flirt under the radar of parents and colleagues.
“If a kid texts a teacher at 9 or 10 p.m. asking about homework, the reply goes straight to the child’s bedroom,” said Frederick Lane, a Brooklyn attorney and author of the book “Cybertraps for the Young.”
“These one-on-one conversations can turn personal, creating a quicker sense of intimacy,” Lane said. “The electronics make it easier for a predator to gain the trust of a child and then exploit that trust.”
The student-staff hanky-panky constitutes only a fraction of all sexual-misconduct complaints, which include groping, molestation and assault. In 2013 alone, Condon’s office received 566 complaints against Department of Education employees with a “sexual component.” It opened 233 investigations and substantiated 24 percent, or 58, Condon reports.
Among Condon’s findings:
• Salahudin Bholai, a teacher at the HS of Graphic Communications in Manhattan, allegedly texted a student a photo of his penis last year. Bholai denied doing so but admitted he flirted with the girl and asked her to send photos. She texted him two shots, showing her partially nude and in a bra. The student said Bholai invited her to his home in Brooklyn several times — a claim he has denied. Phone records show calls between them from 11:44 p.m to 4:33 a.m., some lasting more than two hours. He resigned in October 2013 and is banned from the DOE.
• Pauline Maneepong, a teacher at alternative Satellite Academy HS in Manhattan in 2009, opened her Facebook page — with sexy photos of herself — to students. Kids reported seeing messages such as, “Baby I miss you,” to a boy. On a field trip, the boy showed text messages from the teacher, age 29, including, “I love you.” One Friday at midnight, the boy’s mom opened her son’s bedroom and found him “with a semi-dressed older woman.” He told his mom his guest was “a friend from school.” His cellphone records revealed 1,089 calls and texts to Maneepong. She was fired.
• Colleen Finn, a teacher at Aviation Career and Technical HS in Queens, texted, “baby I want you!” to a male student, according to a female student who found it on his cellphone and reported it. The boy told probers he had sex with Finn in her home on four occasions in 2010. On a senior trip in the Catskills in 2010, Finn took another boy into her hotel room, witnesses said. The boy told probers that Finn gave him vodka, that the “kissing became passionate,” and that they fondled each other. A fellow teacher walked in on them and escorted him out. Finn was fired.
• Olympia Filosa, a teacher at Tottenville HS on Staten Island, was outed when a photo of herself in bra and panties began “circulating around the school.” A male student told investigators that Filosa, then 26, sent him the photo about a year after they started flirting. He told investigators Filosa picked him up in his neighborhood, then drove to a “quiet parking lot” where they had intercourse and oral sex. They exchanged some 6,950 text messages.