The Babylon school district has placed five employees on paid leave following multiple allegations of past teacher sexual misconduct in the weeks since one unnamed employee was placed on paid leave last month due to what school officials called "disturbing allegations."
Superintendent Linda Rozzi said in an emailed statement to Newsday on Tuesday that four employees were "reassigned" Tuesday morning "based on verbal allegations made public" during a Monday board meeting. Another employee was reassigned Monday after the district received "a tip of another allegation." Deirdre Gilligan, a spokeswoman for the district, said in an email later in the day that the employees were placed on paid leave.
Rozzi did not name the employees, citing privacy laws. She also didn’t disclose their positions in the district.
"However, it is important to know that the district does not tolerate abuse of any kind, takes all allegations very seriously and is committed to acting upon each and every claim we receive," she wrote in the statement. "We commend the brave individuals for coming forward and sharing their voices."
In the past week, multiple women alleged they were victims of teacher sexual misconduct when they were students at Babylon Junior-Senior High School — claims the district is now investigating.
Brittany Rohl, who graduated from Babylon High in 2011, was the first woman to come forward. Rohl, 28, said one of her coaches began grooming her at age 16 for a relationship that turned sexual shortly after her 18th birthday and lasted into her college years.
The former coach, who no longer works at the district, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
"Other teachers having sexual relationships with students was an open secret," Rohl said in an interview with Newsday. "There needs to be an overhaul. It's not a few bad apples. It's the whole system."
Her account quickly led to more allegations made public on social media and at the board meeting Monday night.
Darcy Orlando Bennet, who graduated from Babylon in 2009, alleged in an interview with Newsday that she was the victim of several inappropriate encounters involving one of her coaches.
In part, Bennet said the coach attempted to kiss her in her own home when she was in ninth grade and would routinely accost students during matches, making them uncomfortable. He often would comment on her body, and at one point initiated unwanted and lewd physical contact with her in the guise of helping her form, she said.
Bennet said she reported him to her guidance counselors when they spoke to her during an investigation over accusations of the coach’s inappropriate behavior. Though the man was then removed as coach, he retained his job as a teacher in the district.
The coach, who has retired, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Bennet, 30, told Newsday on Tuesday she felt she had done all she could and is still suffering the psychological damage.
"We were basically screaming for help, but Babylon didn't do anything to help us," she said. "What I want is to not hear any more stories about kids being abused at Babylon High School."
On Monday, the district hired a former Suffolk County assistant prosecutor, Chris Powers, to investigate the allegations.
Powers said in an interview Tuesday that he will reach out to those who made accusations at the board meeting and review documents, including personnel files and records that reflect prior history.
"We are systematically going over what the allegations are, and we are going to be speaking to the folks that came forward last night to inquire of them of the circumstances they presented last night," he said.
The district’s investigation, however, is not considered adequate by some, who are calling for an independent investigation.
In a letter Tuesday, Kenneth Silverman, a father of two Babylon High School graduates, asked the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office to open an investigation into the district.
"It is ingrained in the culture of this district," Silverman told Newsday. "I don't believe the community has trust in the board, in the administrators, in the attorney, Mr. Powers, that they hired. ... These issues are systemic."
The investigation the school conducted over the employee placed on leave in October has concluded, but district officials declined to comment further, saying that the person has resigned.
Amora Brown, a senior who participated in a walkout in protest Tuesday morning with more than 100 other students, said she and her classmates wanted to take a stand.
"It's hard to hear these things about these teachers that were accused and then go back to school with them. It's just not right," said Brown, 17. "Things need to change."