Last fall, a 19-year-old high school senior was taken away in handcuffs and charged with sexually abusing a 15-year-old sophomore inside an empty classroom of a Bronx charter school.
This allegedly happened during school hours, with students and teachers just a few doors down.
Serious questions have emerged about how the Bronx Preparatory Charter School handled this outrageous incident and its aftermath.
The mother of the victim has come forward to the Daily News to allege the school had inadequate security and took several hours to notify police.
And the school told her daughter she’d have to return to the school where the incident took place, or reenter a lottery to try for another charter school.
The mother, whose name The News is withholding, said the school was more interested in protecting its own reputation than in her daughter’s well-being.
“The school wants to look good and my daughter makes them look bad. So they don’t want her,” she said.
The school appears to have done its best to keep this under wraps:
During Period 5, the girl was supposed to meet her math teacher in the empty classroom for tutoring.
The teacher never showed. While she was waiting, she says, an older classmate entered the room and raped her on a school desk while classes were in session down the hall.
The older student was arrested that day, and when the girl was questioned by prosecutors with the Bronx district attorney’s office, she told them this wasn’t the only incident.
According to a complaint filed in court, the victim said she’d been sexually molested previously by this same older student on as many as five occasions in empty classrooms.
The girl says all of the incidents took place inside the school, during the school day.
The suspect, Kevin Simpson, was arrested and is facing sexual misconduct charges. The girl’s mother says her daughter is traumatized and no longer attends school.
The mother questions many aspects of the school’s handling of the incident.
For example, it appears there was a significant delay between when a school employee was first told of the occurrence and when police were summoned, the mother says.
The girl’s mother says she arrived at the charter shortly after getting a call from the school, and her daughter was in a room being questioned by school officials. She says police did not arrive until several hours later.
An NYPD spokesman said there was nothing in its paperwork to indicate when cops were called and when they got there.
Prospective parents would have a tough time knowing why any of this was going on. That’s because the minutes of board meetings posted online make no reference to the incident or the resultant security changes.
Nancy Garvey, the board’s chairwoman until June, declined to discuss why that happened or anything else involving the school. She referred The News to Democracy Prep.
The school's motto is "No Excuses!" - and that's pretty much how they've treated the student who has alleged she was sexually assaulted multiple times at the school, treating the victim of the alleged crimes as the problem:
Bronx Preparatory Charter School is managed by Democracy Prep, a national outfit that runs 18 charter schools across the country, including four high schools in the city.
Democracy Prep quickly found a spot for her daughter at another one of its charter schools, in Harlem. But soon her daughter began failing classes.
At the end of the school year, the mother says, Democracy Prep told her that her daughter would have to return to the school where she was assaulted.
“They wanted her to go back where this incident took place,” the mother said. She said her daughter told her, “‘Everybody knows. The students know. I don’t want to go back.’”
Furious, the mother refused, and since June, the girl has not attended school.
“They didn’t give me no help. The ‘help’ . . . is to tell me to take her back? No,” the mom said.
One final piece of information about Bronx Preparatory Charter School:
In the 2013-14 school year preceding the incident, 36 of 67 teachers left the school.
Gives you a sense of the kind of atmosphere they have at Bronx Preparatory that the turnover rate for teachers is almost 54%.
A horror show all around.
Democracy Prep spokesperson defended the school by saying this is a "turnaround" effort and those are notoriously difficult.
Democracy Prep spokeswoman Maggin said, “Anyone who engages in the work of turnaround does so to provide better educational outcomes for students in persistently low-performing schools. It involves changing culture for students, teachers and families and instilling academic discipline and rigor.
“Turnaround is exceptionally hard work that requires urgency and sustained effort.”
Indeed they are.
But let us imagine similar events took place at Boys and Girls or Automotive High School, two of the more infamous "turnaround" public schools.
What would the charter people be saying about that?
Would it be cool if a student alleged multiple incidents of sexual abuse on school grounds and the school acted so casually in response?