NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Angry parents are demanding answers from school officials after a Upper West Side teacher’s aide was accused of sexually assaulting a student.
Gregory Atkins, 56, was arrested Friday for allegedly abusing an 8-year-old boy.
The school principal and Chancellor Dennis Walcott addressed hundreds of parents during a special 90-minute meeting at the school Monday morning. Representatives from the Manhattan district attorney’s office were also on hand to answer questions.
Atkins allegedly took the P.S. 87 student into a bathroom stall and allegedly made him undress several times so he could look for bruises.
1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reports
1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reports Atkins also allegedly forced the boy to expose himself in the auditorium before fondling him.
Similar accusations were made against Atkins by a parent several years ago.
According to a letter to the Department of Education in 2006 when Atkins was working at M.S. 322 in Manhattan, a mother reported concern about Atkins after he showered her son with gifts, offered to babysit him, and lurked at his sports games.
No charges were filed, but according to the DOE inappropriate conduct was substantiated.
The principal in that case did not put a letter in Atkins’ file because the relationship was not found to be sexual.
Walcott says he will go back and re-interview the principal involved in the 2006 incident.
“My bottom line is to make sure our children are protected,” Walcott said. “I pledge to the parents that I will get back to them on a regular basis — not just about this school but from a system point of view — as far as if there were gaps there, how those gaps occurred and make sure those gaps don’t repeat themselves.”
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Parents remain frustrated and confused.
Javier Solano told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown that “absolutely no answers” were provided during the meeting Monday.
“I just don’t understand, how is it possible that someone could have substantiated allegations like that and then not only get transferred from a middle school but get transferred to an elementary school,” another parent said.
Atkins has worked at the middle school since 2008.
He has been charged with sexual abuse, attempted criminal sex act and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Atkins has been suspended without pay.
Police have been contacting parents and looking for other children who may be involved or could be witnesses.