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Walcott Makes Determined Pledge To Weed Out Teachers Flagged For Misconduct

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Dennis Walcott speaks to reporters outside P.S. 87 - New York, NY - Feb 13, 2012 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

Dennis Walcott speaks to reporters outside P.S. 87 – New York, NY – Feb 13, 2012 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The head of New York City schools says a new era has begun when it comes to teachers and misconduct.

Jonathan Polayes is the picture of a broken system that needs fixing, according to the Department of Education. He has been a teacher in city schools for more than 15 years.

Investigative documents show he was red-flagged multiple times, dating to 1994, for groping female students. Instead of being fired, he was repeatedly re-assigned. Polayes was most recently at Baruch College Campus High School, where students said his behavior was sometimes odd, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.

“He would just be around us and talk to us like a regular teacher, but then ask a lot of questions,” said one student.

Polayes’ history came to light after DOE officials reviewed hundreds of old cases of teacher misconduct. That investigation was prompted by the arrests of more than a half dozen teachers in recent weeks for various alleged sex crimes against students.

The findings showed at least eight more school employees, including Polayes, had been flagged over the years for inappropriate conduct with students, but were never fired.

Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced the firing of four of them on Thursday and is pushing to get rid of the others, who are currently tenured.

“I have no tolerance for any staff member having any type of improper relationship, any improper conduct with our students and violating any type of trust that we have invested in them,” Walcott said.

Walcott is pledging a complete overhaul, saying the DOE is working on a new system to flag employees who have been disciplined for misconduct.

Among other new recommendations, Walcott said he has created a new disciplinary support unit to coordinate follow-ups with schools, ensuring appropriate action is taken when teachers misbehave.

Walcott also promised to make sweeping changes to the system used to track employees who have been red-flagged in the past.

Do you think that officials are doing enough to keep New York City school children safe?  Share your thoughts in the comments section…

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