NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Bronx teacher accused of slapping a student has been arrested.
The NYPD says the alleged assault happened inside Middle School 219 on Thursday afternoon.
Police sources told CBS2 50-year-old teacher Fatai Okunola slapped a 12-year-old female student in the face, causing pain and dizziness. The teacher was arrested.
Employees at the school were tight-lipped and surprised by the news Friday morning.
“I don’t know, what’s going on? Oh, I don’t know, just now hearing about it,” one staffer said.
Students said that Mr. O, as he’s called, teaches science at the school and that he’s a good teacher, CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported.
“Maybe the student was doing something that they wasn’t supposed to but that doesn’t give him the right to put hands on a student,” said Cody Todd, a seventh grade student who poke to CBS2 with the permission of his mother.
On Friday, New York City schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña told CBS2 she is taking the allegations very seriously and that an investigation is underway.
“At this point there’s a lot of conflicting reports,” Fariña said. “So we’re just going to wait until the investigation is complete. I would say nothing has been totally resolved.”
She would not elaborate.
CBS2’s Rapoport spoke with Okunola via cell phone. He said he is very upset and adamantly denied the accusations.
“I did not do anything, I did not, what they are saying about me is not true,” he said.
City sources told CBS2 Okunola was previously disciplined by the DOE for corporal punishment in 2014.
He was suspended without pay in 2006 for making inappropriate comments to students.
Police sources said the accused teacher was arrested and released, and ordered to appear in court on Jan. 16.
The DOE said he has been removed from the school and re-assigned to duty away from students pending the results of the investigation.