NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Known for its excellence in education, P.S. 87 on the Upper West Side was shaken Friday by the arrest of one of its teacher’s aides for alleged sex abuse.

The school broke the news to parents in a letter.

“It’s appalling and a shock, because you wouldn’t think of it in a school like this,” parent David Callaway told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.

“It’s really, really disturbing. It makes you think what next?” Steve Anthony added.

Gregory Atkins, 56, worked at the middle school since 2008. Last Friday he was transferred to the Department of Education after school officials learned he was being accused of sexually abusing a child.

A police investigation led to his arrest Friday.

“That’s unfortunate any time that happens. It can happen anywhere. All we can do is be vigilant as parents and listen to our kids,” parent Tom McCracken said.

This isn’t the first time Atkins raised suspicion. Documented in a letter to the DOE 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 because the relationship was not found to be sexual.

“People like that are very charming and they are very good with kids, so they’re very good at grooming and having the kids trust them,” parent Dricel Okacaki said.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott responded to the Atkins charges by saying: “We take this allegation very seriously and we pledge to cooperate fully in the ongoing police investigation.”

Atkins’ neighbors were stunned by the accusations.

“It’s shocking because he doesn’t look like that type of person,” neighbor Yannery Salazar said.

P.S. 87 is holding a special meeting for parents on Monday at 8:30 a.m. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will be there to answer questions and address any concerns.

Police are contacting parents and looking for other children who may be involved or could be witnesses.

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Comments (8)
  1. Adeyinka says:

    This news is another example as to how sick america,as a nation is.When you potray what is bad(homosexuality) to kids as what is good,and vice-vasa.This is what you get.There is too much sexualization in the media.What the teacher’s aid,is being acused of,is not a criminal offense in Grece.There, the govt considers pedophilianism as a disability.By the end of this century the same will be the case in USA.When a nation decides to go against what contradicts the law of nature,this is what you get.How is this?he is made that way.

    1. Rodin says:

      “…to go against what contradicts the law of nature” is a double negative which, in effect says “to follow the law of nature.”

      There is no such word as “pedophilianism” defined anywhere,

      This comment is another example of how ill informed, misguided and ignorant some commentators on these pages are. Pedophilia has nothing to do with homosexuality other than the fact that some pedophiles may be homosexual (as well as heterosexual). Most pedophiles are otherwise heterosexual, see Jerry Sandusky, football coach, sexually infantile, repressed, socially immature individuals who are deficient in adult relationships. Homosexuals are attracted to adults of their same sex. Pedophiles are attracted to children, whether their own sex or not.

    2. Sara says:

      Adeyinka- I am compelled to respond to your comment because of how greatly disturbing it is. Regardless of the danger inherent in your point of view, this boy did not consent to the attention this adult man gave him. Your “beliefs” fall flat because having a disability is not a license to molest children. You argue that pedophilia is just a “way of life” for some people and that the rest of us should not judge such a “condition.” Yet this dangerously disturbing idea of yours completely disregards the FACT that children cannot consent to such crude acts. It doesn’t matter if he (or you?) is “made this way;” a person with such a “disability” has no right to traumatize or ruin the life of a child. Also, homosexuality is in no way related to paedophilia, and such a judgement is obscene. I am extremely concerned about the state of mind you must be in to maintain such a position.

  2. mama jan says:

    like honestly no. this person seriously like honestly why does he think these behavior is okay like honestly


  3. Chachii says:

    Crazy how he use to work in my old jr. High school IS 218. Smh poor kids that he did harm too. But he never looked like that type always said hi and walked away.

  4. Starchild1 says:

    If you work with chiltdren these days you have to be very very careful. Not just of the children, but, the parents, too. If you are not popular with the child, the child will go home and lie to his/her parent and then you have problems. Like the parent on the news the other day starting an isuue over the word “gun”. Hello!
    children these days know more than the word “gun”. But, back to the main issue at hand. The guy is innocent unitl proven guilty.


  5. rodin says:

    “It’s shocking because he doesn’t look like that type of person,” neighbor Yannery Salazar said.

    What does “that type of person” look like?


    This has apparently become a crisis, it is quite evident this has been going on in schools for many yrs. It’s absolutely disgusting for these sick perverted animals to take advantage of these kids..they intimidate, threaten, and eventually manipulate their minds to believe that this behavior is okay. These children who are victims of sex abuse are scarred for life, mentally, emotionally and as a result, they become homosexual as adults, sometimes not by their choice
    Do us all (taxpayers) a favor, dont put this slime in prison charged to my dime, castrate that animal by using guitar string and hang him from the GWB. DONE !

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