Posted at: 03/26/2013 4:42 PM
Updated at: 03/26/2013 6:36 PM
By: Brett Davidsen
Some parents in the city are expressing concern about whether the district is keeping children safe. On Tuesday, a handful of people held signs protesting the placement of a teacher who was arrested in January and charged with sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy. They believe the teacher is reporting daily to a building on Hart Street, the same building that houses a charter school and a Head Start program.
But do they have the right location?
36-year-old Matthew Lomaglio is a physical education teacher. Police say he molested one of his students while working at School No. 19 six years ago. Since his arrest, he has been assigned to the district's "alternate work location."But what is that and where is that? And should parents be concerned.
They held up signs and passed out flyers, warning people that a man awaiting trial for child sex abuse was inside this building. Once he became the subject of a police investigation, Matthew Lomaglio was taken out of the school setting and placed in an isolated setting to do non-student related work. The protesters believe that location is on Hart Street, a building that houses a charter school and a preschool.
Carla Williams, protestor, said, "He's been brought up on charges of molesting a child, so he does not need to be in a vicinity of children until they are able to prove his innocence."
But the district says their information is not accurate. In a statement, a spokesperson said,, "Matthew Lomaglio has been assigned to the alternate work location since the Rochester Police Department informed us in April 2012 that he was being investigated. This location is isolated from students and there are no children on the premises."
So if Lomaglio isn't at Hart Street during the day, where is this alternate work location? I-Team 10 discovered that the district moved it to the portable buildings behind School No. 16 on Post Avenue where Rochester Teachers' Union President Adam Urbanski says they are assigned to busy work.
Adam Urbanski said, “Not work that involves proximity to children. There are no children at the portable. And there are no children at School No. 16 currently because the building is being renovated."
When I-Team 10 went there Tuesday afternoon, the building was empty.
Urbanski said, "I've checked on that with the person who supervises the location and we were told that location closed today at 1 pm."
But should teachers under investigation be on any school property while their case is pending?
Asa Adams, protestor, said, "He should be home, suspended from school like any other job until his innocence is proven."
That used to be the case until a few years ago. Like many other districts, the RCSD used to place teachers on paid administrative leave until their case was concluded.
News10NBC's Brett Davidsen said, “Do you think they should go back to that instead of housing them in some unit here or there where people may not have any idea where they are and could create confusion like this?
Urbanski said, "I absolutely feel that they should return to the policy we had."
The idea of the alternate work location or the “rubber room”, as some teachers call it, came from former superintendent Jean Claude Brizzard. The thinking was that as long as the teachers were still going to be paid while their cases were being investigated, they may as well put them to work, but in areas that did not present a danger to the students.
The district can't fire a teacher while their case is still pending. They have to wait for the wheels of justice to determine guilt or innocence. In some cases, districts are able to negotiate a resignation as a means to give them closure. But Urbanski said that no matter how objectionable the criminal allegations may be, there is still a presumption of innocence that everyone is entitled to.