The Babylon school district is seeking the termination of two of three teachers who have been on paid leave for more than a year since former students accused a dozen current and former Babylon Junior-Senior High School educators of misconduct at a contentious board meeting in November 2021.
Babylon's school board formally began the state-mandated process that school districts must follow to terminate a tenured educator by voting to file state disciplinary charges against the unidentified teachers at Monday night's board meeting.
Interim Superintendent Brian Conboy said at the meeting that the charges are “related to the accusations” raised at the school board meeting in November 2021. He confirmed by email Tuesday that the two teachers facing state disciplinary charges were reassigned to home after that meeting.
In a statement, Babylon school board president Carol Dell'Erba said: "As we have told the community, this board has made a commitment to take every step possible under the fullest extent of the law to protect our students and let them know that they can feel safe in our buildings. As part of that commitment, we are moving ahead with 3020-a proceedings against these individuals. They will remain on leave outside of the classroom and away from students until this process has concluded."
WHAT TO KNOW
- The Babylon school board voted Monday to start legal proceeding to terminate employment of two teachers who have been on leave since November 2021.
- The teachers have been on leave for more than a year since former students accused a dozen current and former Babylon Junior-Senior High School educators of misconduct.
- The Babylon school board president issued a statement on Tuesday claiming the district will take “every step possible under the fullest extent of the law to protect our students and let them know that they can feel safe in our buildings.”
To dismiss a tenured educator, school districts follow a process known as “3020-a,” its section title in state law. A state-appointed arbitrator decides whether the school proved its case and then the appropriate penalty. Education law experts have told Newsday school districts use the process to seek termination.
The school board’s decision to pursue the state disciplinary charges comes a little more than a week after a Newsday report detailed how Babylon dealt with sexual harassment complaints years before the former students blamed the district in November 2021 for mishandling similar allegations.
Documents Newsday obtained from the school district last month showed how Babylon kept teacher Barry Goldsholle employed for more than a decade until his retirement in 2018 despite determining complaints he sexually harassed seven female student-athletes were "credible."
Goldsholle was among the dozen current and former teachers that the alums accused of misconduct at the board meeting in 2021. Those allegations against the teachers and the school for mishandling the complaints led State Attorney General Letitia James days later to launch an investigation into the district, and her office said this month that the probe continues.
Before James' announcement of an investigation, Babylon had already hired an outside attorney, Christopher Powers of Hauppauge-based Ingerman Smith, to do its own probe into "current employees." Powers also has said this month his investigation remains ongoing.
The district initially responded to the flurry of allegations in November 2021 by placing five teachers on paid leave. The district said earlier this month that three teachers “remain on administrative reassignment” and declined to provide further details.
At Monday night’s board meeting, Conboy addressed the Newsday story, saying school administrators have been working since the start of the school year “to restore whatever needs to be restored, whether it’s faith or trust or confidence — whatever may have been lost based on the accusations brought [in November 2021.]
“We understand we can’t undo what’s been done,” Conboy added. “And we’re not going to minimize it, we’re not going to ignore it. It’s part of what we need to address going forward.”
The school district also sent a message to parents last week about the Newsday story that read, "We cannot comment on individual personnel matters or the factors that led previous boards to take the actions they took. What we can say, and want the Babylon community to know, is that we find the behavior that has been alleged of past and current staff members of this district abhorrent, unacceptable, and a stain on this district that must be rectified."
In the past 15 months, one Babylon teacher resigned and agreed never to seek employment at a school nationwide, and another high school teacher was arrested on rape charges.