Schools Chancellor Gets An Earful After Arrest Of Teacher Wilbert Cortez For Alleged Sex Abuse

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Parents gave Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott an earful Friday morning at a heated emergency meeting following the arrest of a teacher accused of sexually abusing his students. It’s the third incident of its kind in recent weeks.

More than 100 angry parents attended the meeting with Walcott at P.S. 174, where Wilbert Cortez taught a computer class. Cortez is accused of inappropriately touching two students there back in the 2010-2011 school year.

“My daughter was in his class. And if I would’ve found out before they made the public announcement, they couldn’t have stopped me from going there and, I would be locked up for assault. That’s what I’m saying, because I would’ve gotten my hands on him,” father Steven Katz told CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.

“I’m a grandparent. I’m a parent. So I understand where they’re coming from,” Walcott said.

Cortez walked out of Queens criminal court last night after posting $50,000 bail. The children in question are now ages 8 and 9.

1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports

Police arrested Tyleek Brooks, identified in court documents as Taleek Brooks, on February 7. Police say Brooks had videos that allegedly showed him sexually abusing at least two children inside a classroom at PS 243 in Brooklyn.

Gregory Atkins, another teacher’s aide, was also accused of sexually abusing a student at PS 87 on the Upper West Side.

The father of one of the boys Cortez is accused of abusing showed up at the meeting to get answers.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane On The Story

“He was very upset because he wants to know what will happen to the teacher, why it took so long, why didn’t his file transfer from 12 years ago to now. That didn’t happen,” said Barry Campbell.

In 2000, when Cortez was at P.S. 184 in Brooklyn, a letter went out to the Department of Education, saying Cortez allegedly “inappropriately touched two male students.” The letter adds that one of the accusers reported the alleged abuse to another teacher, but “on three separate occasions, he failed to report the information to the principal.”

A letter was placed in Cortez’s permanent file. Nonetheless, shortly after the letter, Cortez was transferred to P.S. 174, where he has taught for 11 years.

Parents are furious that Cortez remained in the school system despite his past.

“People are upset because they don’t know what happened,” said parent Denis Beissel. “And it does reveal some failures in the administrative system, in the school system.”

In addition to meeting with the parents today, Walcott put out a letter outlining policy changes following the spate of scandals. Those changes include making sure schools can easily identify teachers who have been previously disciplined when they’re looking to hire. Walcott says his staff will also dig through records of substantiated complaints of misconduct and “take appropriate action where necessary.”

“What I’m doing now is upping the ante. And saying, That there’s any improper touching involved. It’s not going to be a letter to the file. You’re going to be removed from the system,” he told Guzman.

And because Cortez slipped through the cracks 12 years ago, Walcott says they’ll look at records going back to 2000, and anyone who was flagged from then to now will be fired.

“We take matters like this very seriously,” Walcott wrote.

Click here to read Walcott’s letter (.pdf)

Kasia Rogan says Cortez teaches her 5-year-old son.

“I’m scared for my son, and I’m worried about other kids if that really happened,” Rogan said.

The series of sexual abuse arrests are causing alarm throughout the New York City school system.

“Our schools cannot be safe zones for pedophiles,” said New York State Senator Eric Adams. “It must be safe zones for children.”

What’s your reaction to the recent string of sexual abuse allegations in NYC schools? Sound off in our comments section below…

  • Student of Ps.174Q

    First of all, its Ps. 174Q. Not 179.
    I was also a student of Mr. Cortez, its so weird! He was the nicest teacher ever.
    There were some acts that seemed harmless back then but now that I look at them they just seem plain weird and pedophile-ish. (If thats even a word.) He never seemed the type to have been touching little boys, it’s crazy.

  • Greg B.

    I was a student of his around 2002 till 2006, and had him every year as he was brought in to be the only (foreign language) Spanish teacher. No one will ever convince me that he is a pedophile/pervert. He was the nicest teacher in the school, yet managed to be a somewhat strict grader and actually managed to go above and beyond when it came to teaching what was needed to be learned. I was a student at this school, and a more feasible explanation for this whole situation is that homophobic kids could have just reported an entirely wrong accusation that almost certainly costs a innocent man’s job, made him waste $50,000 on bail, and now have a uncertain future due to him being flagged as a sex offender. You know kids these days, “you’re gay, he’s gay” – i’m 100% sure this guy has a wife and kids. I don’t want to live in a world where stuff like this happens – what ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

  • ashamedofyouhumans

    i never ever read comments, and just now i realized why i shouldnt. there are way too many ignorant, dumb people in this world. and for those homophobic dumbies, homophobia is a sign of being gay.


    This teacher looks like a crack head and a degenerate

    • Gnarley

      This is an ignorant comment… You can not judge someone by what they look like. The picture above was taken as he was leaving the courthouse after being arrested for doing something horrible. Would you expect him to be smiling for the camera?

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    What do you expect in NYC the Mayor Supports Men interested in other Mens rectums and I would bet is a member of MAMBLA

  • Tracy

    I can’t believe that people like you exist in this world. A homosexual is NOT a pedophile. Wow. I do ask for acceptance for all consenting adults to have equal rights under the law. That is completely different than saying civil liberties should apply to people who prey on children (who cannot legally give consent). Your ignorance baffles me.

    • PETE

      Homosexuality is just the first stage of a pedophile. Homos like to ADOPT little boys to raise and cultivate, like gardeners, their own a..holes. Who wants to abuse an old rear end, when a young, juicy one is in reach!! Pedos and homos work with all the tricks in the book to gain the trust of their victims. To be a priest, teacher, or coach is an excellent, easy and proven way to get into their victims pants. .

  • sadden

    i went to the school that he worked in back in the 90’s he was a down to earth teacher couldnt believe that he would do something but u cant turn a blind eye to this again….

  • Nadia

    It’s such a shame, the school where he worked and got arrest in is right across the street from my house. He seemed like a nice, normal, everyday guy. My baby sister had him for computers and she loved him. So much commotion today in the neighborhood. A part of me really wants to believe that he didn’t do it, that it’s just a misunderstanding, but all the clues are right in front of us. It’s really very sad

    • RoyBoySays

      That’s the game with pedophiles,first they gain your trust,then they molest your children,and leave you in disbelief………………when your kid says someting has happened,”BELIEVE HIM/HER”

  • Appalling

    This is all you hear about -HOMOSEXUALITY AND PEDOPHILES. They are taking over our planet and people are being asked to accept it framed by “civil liberties”. If you don’t think that pedophiles are going to be the next ones crying about their civil rights I have a bridge to sell you. The world is definitely coming to an end. THANK GOD!

    • Gil

      Does it state somewhere in this article that he is homosexual? Why would you assume that?

  • PETE

    The NY Board of Ed. is in many ways like the Catholic Church. There is a hard core clique of influential pedophiles, and they shuffle their members from school to school. We do not know who learned from whom and what the success rate is. It only comes to light when their sh..t hits the fan.

  • dan pedraza

    Short Eyes baby….

  • RoyBoySays

    This is so typical of the school systems,not only in New York,but Nationally,instead of investing allegations of sexual abuse,they just transfer the problem teacher to another school,where he/she continues their deviant behavior unabated……………………!

  • Jimmney

    The schools are “mayoral controlled” and since then we have seen a prevert or two exposed every week. More school closing than ever.

    Who are you going to blame “Mr.Mayor”, the UFT? The students? Could the increasing acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle have anything to do with this behavior. Naahhhhhh! It just a coincidence, right? :(

  • Linda

    WHY are teachers not screened better before hiring, WHY are they not fired immediately when not doing their jobs properly and WHY are they not arrested when having inappropriate contact with a child ????????????????????????? Children need to come first and foremost, not teachers, pensions, tenure and unions.

    • Kathryn

      I agree with you 100%. Once proven a teacher had inappropriate contact with a child they should be stripped of their job and pensionand jailed. Children are first and foremost. The Commissioner’s Office of Special Investigations has done reports on this type of activity on more than one occassion, but obviously the Department of Education has not taken any of their advice, the reports were written in 1994 and 1997 and this insanity is still going on. So who do we as parents hold accountable???/

  • CT Native

    This slimebucket needs to be sexually abused behind bars!!!!

    • A "Going Postal" Worker

      You are so right.
      Maybe the other inmates will do the world a favor and beat him to death.

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