Lawrence Scott III, Agent of the NYC DOE Office of Special Investigations (OSI), Sexually Assaults Teacher Natalya Sokolson-Gordon at Her School, PS. 329 in Coney Island, Brooklyn
will keep their identities anonymous. All were fearful and upset as they recapped the horrors that lay within the walls of PS 329. They told me about the cruelty and abuse that not only the teachers, but the children are subjected to daily. Many have reported Ms. Marbury but never heard back from anyone.
Several teachers were afraid that they too will end up "like Ms. Gordon."
|PS 329 Principal Salema Dawson Marbury|
I spoke with a child who told me that Ms. Marbury and Ms. Lafontant took her/him and many of her/his classmates out of class and made them write lies about their teacher. Many of them were frightened by Principal Marbury and AP Lafontant who threatened them and told them they had to write what they were told. The children said that they told the investigator what Ms. Marbury and Ms.Lafontant were doing.
However... Where is that report?
Several parents asked for transfers in fear of their children's welfare but were denied by the Dept of Education regional office. One parent told me, "Ms. Marbury treats the parents as if we are some stupid people from the projects who do not know any better, we are not!" "While at other times she threatens us with her husband. I'm not scared, I grew up in Coney Island, I know her husband".
There are many people at fault in this matter, but most alarming is the abuse of authority seen in the actions of Lawrence Scott III. The New York Post editorialized in the December 29, 2013 article about Investigator Scott that this matter will forever undermine the integrity of the DOE’s Office of Special Investigations and change the perception the general public has of the "investigators" who work for the City of New York. This goes all the way to the top, Rose Gill Hearn and the Department of Investigation (DOI). who knew, or should have known, this assault could happen, given past mistakes and abuses of power which have been documented and sent to these chiefs previously. Instead, the Chiefs of these agencies go after the victim of assaults and demand that they keep quiet until they "finish their investigation". This is the reason the rubber rooms were filled with people, all waiting until the Gotcha Squad told them what they were guilty of.
I wrote this in 2009:
The New York City Board of Education seems not to understand the meaning of the word "investigation" as "a systematic, minute, and thorough attempt to learn the facts about something complex or hidden; it is often formal and official". I say this because the NYC BOE just doesn't get it right, much of the time. The agencies involved, Office of Legal Services, Office of Equal Opportunity, and Special Commissioner of Investigation, are all funded by the New York City Board of Education. (See NYC Rubber Room Reporter article News To Use: New York City Government Payroll, FOIL, PERB, Budget, and More" We know what this means. If Joel Klein says "punish the teacher...", then the 'facts' will conveniently fall into the column titled "guilty". The act that the teacher did to be found "guilty" does not really matter, and often the character of the teacher or past history of stellar performance doesn't really impact the conclusion either. By the way, Ms. Sacco told me she has never received a "U" (unsatisfactory) rating for her teaching.
Mr. Dennis Boyles, an investigator paid also by the NYC Board of Education, told a teacher in the presence of his UFT representative that he, Boyles, had been asked by the Principal to come to the school "to find him (the teacher) guilty". His subsequent testimony at this teacher's 3020-a was ridiculous, and embarrassing for OSI, his employer. Here is his payroll entry in the article on this blog "New To Use": Boyles, Dennis; Education Admin, Department of; Annual $66,988 .
Several years ago I brought two 15 year-old girls to be interviewed by Mr. Dennis Boyles after both were beaten at their school in Brooklyn. Between the two girls' testimonies, Mr. Boyles told me, "listen, it only cost me $5,000 to get my 15-year old daughter out of trouble". I believe he was suggesting that the girls pay $5,000 in order to be found innocent. No one paid anything, and both girls were suspended from their school for beating their attacker, who didn't have a scratch on him. Both girls had been sent to the hospital. I researched the man who hit the two girls and found that he had a long criminal record of harassment at the Brooklyn NYPD. The NYC BOE had allowed him to take a position at Sheepshead Bay High School without checking his criminal record? Was Mr. Dennis Boyles suggesting that I give him money to let the girls go free? Was this a "You help me and I'll help you" scheme? I believe so.
If you question or make a complaint to any of the above agencies, you will be investigated, and/or charged with "impeding an investigation" ....whatever that means. You will be put into 3020-a (if you are tenured) or discontinued if you have probationary status. No employee of the DOE should contact an "investigator" for any reason. People should instead give all the information to a third party person who can make the complaint, and also go to the District Attorney. Not the police, who will not file any complaint against a principal. There is nothing fair or impartial about this process. People are being falsely accused, framed, set up, terminated, destroyed, all for no reason other than an administrator decided he/she is not to be in the school for a week, month, or forever. Simple, basta cosi. And I'm just talking about those people who are not guilty of anything. But the NYSUT/UFT "don't talk to them" directive is wrong too. They are not the only people who can be The Gotcha Squad. You can be too.
What bothers the heck out of me is that on January 15, 2013 Salema Marbury put Natalya and Scott in an isolated room on the first floor of PS 329 that had been damaged by Sandy. She put the two of them alone in that room, for Scott to interrogate Natalya. Did she have an agenda in doing this? During the school day?
Victims of harassment inside the Department of Education are victimized over and over again until they give up, resign, retire, or run. That's what happened in this case, almost.
When I was hired by the UFT in August 2007, I was hired to work 14 hours/week on finding out who was in the "rubber rooms" and to help any member who needed assistance. When Mike Mulgrew took over I was told not to email, speak to, or otherwise help anyone, and just sit in my office, as everyone charged was always guilty, and I mustn't get in the way ("of the Department") . Liz Perez, a Brooklyn UFT Special Representative, even told the principal at the 25 Chapel Street rubber room to spy on me, and make sure that I was not giving any advice to members on my weekly visits.
This is why I no longer work for the UFT, and have started my own advocacy organization (ADVOCATZ, part of my company Theater Kids, Inc.). People undergoing an "investigation" should not be left in the dark about what they are being investigated for.
|Yolanda and Lawrence Scott III|
The word "investigator" is a frightening word. If you hear "An investigator is here to speak with you", this starts, in most people, the heart beating quickly, the palms of your hands getting sweaty, and then fear becomes the taste in your mouth. People who are put into the unfortunate position of being "under investigation" usually do whatever they are told, because they are threatened that there will be horrible consequences to follow if they do not cooperate. This is what Scott made Natalya believe.
a 'Peyton Place'. I call it that because it seems that too many teachers are sleeping with too many wives and husbands of other teachers and administrators. We had to make a chart to keep all the sex partners straight. Take the
Principal, for instance. She was Salema Dawson until she married the PS 329 Parent Coordinator, who is now the Guidance Counselor at PS 39, Don Marbury. My sources tell me that they had to "do their thing" in the school building because he was married at the time.
On or about July 2009 Natalya helped set up and decorate Footprints cafe in Coney Island for Salema's bridal shower. On Aug 9, 2009 she attended and photographed Salema's and Don's wedding at the Riviera. Here are some of Natalya's photos:
Salema and Don Marbury
She even photographed the bride at home prior to wedding. In Sept 2009 Salema brought Natalya back gifts from their honeymoon. Then, Natalya's brother found out about the affair his wife Tina Murlin Sololson was having with the gym teacher. Natalya was accused of telling her brother about the affair, starting the harassment by Salema.
|PS 329 Principal Salema Dawson Marbury and husband Don E. Marbury|
|Young Entrepreneurs Program Flyer|
On March 13, 2012 Natalya was questioned about her concern about illegal fundraising through the Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP). All files and receipts were taken from her with out proper accountability. All money made during the sales were taken from her and never seen again. Students lessons and feedback were stolen out of her room by teacher Ms. Smith who Natalya caught going into her classroom with an administrative key(opens all doors) and looking through her files. The air conditioners promised in the flyer at right were never seen.
On March 14, 2012 Natalya had a UFT Meeting with Judy Gerowitz regarding concerns in the school building regarding the
handling of situations by Salema. Immediately after the meeting several teachers told Ms. Marbury of what was said in the meeting and Marbury began to immediately harass Natalya.
The parent of the missing child (see article at left) told me that her daughter was given to another parent, and Marbury did not seem to take control of the situation. The parent, Ms. Torres, went to the Department of Education to transfer her daughter, and they told her they had lengthy procedures to follow. She went to the media and her daughter was transferred out the next day.
At the April 24, 2012 Time and attendance hearing Natalya was fined $3000. However, the Principal tampered with her personnel file and withheld LODI information. The LODI in question was overturned in October of 2013. Natalya's salary and days were to be returned to her, but have not been returned, yet. (I and Natalya went to see Michelle Nacht at OPI the end of December).
On April 25, 2012 Natalya was given a letter to file for using the bathroom during the 37.5 min after school program, and leaving her 4 children with a teacher next door for 2 min.
The teachers in the building were horrified by this rule, and one teacher told me, "Marbury said it was only for [Natalya]." She was given another letter for the same crime on May 6, 2012.
April 27, 2012: There was an incident of a missing child and items stolen from the classroom, as well as children accessing a closed classroom with an administrative key.
Natalya questioned the children and explained the concern for their safety to them and
then reported the incident to AP Lisa Lafontant assistant principal.
|Anita Garcia, former principal of PS 329, left; Salema Marbury, Principal, third from right; |
AP Lisa Lafontant, second from right
During this time OSI Investigator Thomas Rickey and then Dennis Boyles, came to investigate Principal Marbury on misappropriation of funds, stealing school time, and
using teachers to do personal favors for her during school time. The YEP program was linked to illegal fundraisers and missing money. No report has ever been seen from OSI. After Natalya answered the questions Ms Marbury went around telling people that she
wrote the letter to OSI, however the letter contained instances that she had no clue about.
Natalya was the schools photographer, video person, tech teacher and web site developer, as well as many other roles. At a UFT meeting on May 15, 2012, with UFT Representative Judy Gerowitz and the PS 329 Chapter Leader, regarding the disclosure of her personal business in a staff meeting and several other issues concerning Natalya's allegations and harassment, Dean Barbara Straughter asked Natalya to take pictures in the auditorium. Immediately following this meeting the principal, Salema, called Natalya's classroom during a math lesson and she was yelling at her about taking pictures. At 1:45PM Ms Marbury stormed into the classroom and began to tell at the children about service points towards graduation. Alleging that a parent complained that their child didn't want to do service she continued to yell "who told their parent that? Oh you're too good to clean?" She then went around the room yelling at each student and proceeded to degrade one student by calling her spoiled and asking her if she was too good to clean. Salema then snatched the school camera that Natalya always used from her desk and left the room yelling and being verbally abusive to Natalya in front of the children. "I could not finish my lesson because the kids were upset and the student was hysterically crying," Natalya told me.
I looked Barbara Straughter
up, and it seems that NYSED has no record of her being certified to be a teacher or a
Dean in a school from August 2012 until February 1, 2014. (See picture at left of Educator Lookup on the NYSED website)
PS 329 has no SAVE Room.
On May 22, 2012 Natalya was summoned to a disciplinary meeting once again. Ms
Marbury had A PTA parent write a letter of lies about her, promising the parent that she would get the child into a better JHS than the one assigned. That same day Natalya reported to the UFT that on May 14, 2012 Salema called a new safety Officer "Uncle
Ben" during a staff meeting. Natalya reported her. Salema then told security that Natalya could not be in the lobby because the parents said that Natalya dances in a local bar and that they are disgusted by seeing her in the lobby. During the meeting, when Natalya asked Salema why she was telling people that she stripped at a location bar., ."She yelled and threw me out if the meeting." Disciplinary letter to file given to Natalya on May 31, 2012.
On May 30, 2012, a child was called out of lunch and told to write a statement about
Natalya by AP Lafontant, but the child said his father would not let him write false things about his teacher. Natalya reported this to Ms. Brown, the Children's First Network (CFN) leader.
The next day Natalya was served with new disciplinary charges and a letter to file after lunch. She read it during her prep period right before last period. On May 31, when during instruction Natalya lost consciousness and when the paramedics arrived, the paramedics called ms Gordon's brother at work off her cell phone, he was listed as primary contact via iPhone emergency app. When her brother, Mr. Sokolson (who had 2 children as students
in the building, and his wife Ms. Tina Murlin-Sokolson is still at the school) arrived at the ps329 building, after signing in at the front desk and obtaining a pass, he proceeded to the main office. Once there he asked Ms. Anita Reynolds , the secretary on the whereabout of his sister. At which point Ms. Marbury ran out of her office yelling and threatening Mr. Sokolson to get out of the building, without providing any information on her whereabouts. (Natalya was still being cared for by the paramedics and was still on the floor in the school building). Ms. Marbury threw him out of the building and filed a police report against him. Fortunately he also recorded the whole incident, however when he reported this to SCI he was told that they gave the case to OSI who then turned it over to Ms. DeMola superintendent, who then told Natalya's brother that the case was closed and and no
further information nor explanation was given. No one even bothered to listen to the audio.
Natalya was hospitalized. Upon returning to school she was denied LODI. Natalya was served with a disciplinary letter for insubordination claiming that she failed to sign and return the disciplinary letter given to her on may 31, 2012 as she was being wheeled out of the school building by paramedics and taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
In June 2012 an auction was held at the school, and no one recalls the money ever being seen or discussed. The principal would not allow any discussion of where the money went or was used, or the school budget at SLT meetings. The Chapter Leader transferred out.
On June 19, 2012, another teacher got upset at a little girl for asking for more food and yanked her really hard by the arm. Upon entering her classroom Natalya immediately called the office and was transferred to Ms Straughter. After telling her of the incident Ms Straughter sent the incident form via a student to Natalya's class with a blank incident form. She, and two other people, Ms Schatzman(para) and the cafeteria staff lady Betty wrote down what had occured. During her prep which was next period, she made copies and submitted her report to three people, including ms Marbury. After a few days Natalya was informed by the mother that ms Marbury had called and told her that Natalya pulled her daughters arm and that they were going to remove me from the building. The mother told ms Marbury, "Ms Gordon did NOT do that to my child, another teacher did. I took my child to the precinct and filed a police report and my daughter told the detective who did it".
Ms Marbury then filed an OSI REPORT that the reason she accused Natalya was because Natalya had failed to give her the incident report.
On June 26, 2012, during summer clean up, while carrying her things to her car, Natalya was approached by two men who threatened her not to come back into the building in September. When the school safety officer (who was already outside by the location of the incident), walked the frightened Ms. Gordon back inside the buildIng and to the main office, she (Ms. Gordon) was immediately thrown out if the building by Ms. Marbury. Ms. Gordon then went directly to the precinct to file a report.
In October, 2012 Natalya was summoned to a disciplinary meeting, for the June 26, 2012 incident, where Marbury now claimed Natalya was lying and in a confidential OEO report dated March 11, 2013 Marbury claimed that she was told by a wittness, "whose name Marbury could not recall" that Natalya was not threatened",(as written in the Confidential OEO notes) and after falsifying a NYC police report against Natalya, Marbury charged Natalya with a disciplinary letter to file. In this letter Marbury accused Natalya of "inappropriate behavior" in alleging that Marbury was responsible for these two men threatening her in order to "get back" at Principal Marbury for Principal Marbury's discipline of Ms. Sokolson-Gordon (OEO Case #0084/13, p. 4).
Oct 3, 2012: Natalya was given a third grade class she had never had before (she was supposed to have grade 5) , and as soon as the lesson began, AP Lafontant came in, telling her it was a walk through. After several minutes she left. The next day Natalya received a U "unsatisfactory" rating for the walk-through (which in reality was a "fly-by").
On October 17, 2012 a student began to throw objects and Natalya made many telephone calls for help (PS 329 does not have a SAVE room), but no one came to help. The child refused to stop and began to hit, curse, and scratch Natalya. A para was walking by and attempted to assist but the child ran off. She called the office once more and within a few minutes the safety officer came up and went to look for the child. Natalya filled out an incident report and called his mom, then gave the report to Ms Marbury and one to AP Lafontant.
A week later a student gave Natalya a manila envelope, which she left in her classroom
and did not look inside. Soon after, hurricane Sandy displaced everyone in the school. In January 2013 Natalya was summoned to a disciplinary meeting regarding the out of control child and was told that she was found guilty of pushing the child out of the room. She was given several witness statements. However when she found the original manila envelope, this contained student statements written in October which were totally different than the statements written by same students in January. The latter version became a charge for 3020-a. Natalya kept the original statements.
Nov 15, 2012: a student attempted to jump down the stairs while screaming "I am going to kill myself". Another teacher was coming up the stairs and tried to prevent this act, but Natalya told him she would carry the child to the office located two flights up, and asked him to take care of her class. He agreed. Upon entering the office Natalya asked for assistance and told Ms Straughter what happened. Suddenly Salema came from around the corner of the office, the child saw her, and started screaming. Salema grabbed the child by the legs and started pulling her into the office telling her to shut up and telling her "not in this building, you will not do this in this building" but the child wouldn't let go of the door frame as Salema was pulling her by her legs into the room. Natalya, afraid that if she let go of the child the child would hit the floor with her head. Natalya finally got the child to let go of the door and Salema pulled her into her office and slammed the door shut while yelling for the child to shut her mouth.
Natalya immediately wrote an incident report and gave it to AP Lafontant who then gave her a school form to write it in. She filled out the form and handed it in. Natalya reported this incident to OSI. (Dennis Boyles came to the school building in Feb 2013 to investigate and question the other teacher involved, but no report has been seen from OSI). On November 25, 2012 the teacher involved as well others were asked to write false statements about what happened. They refused, however, Salema Marbury never reported the incident
properly, and therefore endangered the welfare of a special needs child. Marbury charged
|Principal Salema Marbury in front of her self portrait on the mural outside of PS 329|
On or about January 30-31 2013 Natalya was removed from her teaching duties and the school. She was put into the rubber room on the 12th floor of 49-51 Chambers Street where Michelle Nacht works, for a few days. Then she was moved to 65 Court Street, where Investigator Scott worked, and then Petrides Complex in Staten Island. On January 30, 2013 Salema Marbury filed a complaint on behalf of herself and Parent Coordinator Leah Depena with the DOE Office of Equal Opportunity ("OEO") charging Natalya with sexual harassment. A clear example of Salema Marbury's psychosis is what she told OEO Investigator Victoria A. Ajibade, Esq.: that from the start, she and Natalya never interacted much, that Natalya always wanted to "do things her way", that Natalya was "unstable" and "coo-coo crazy". Principal Marbury remarked that "Ms. Sokolson-Gordon is the stalker type...[and] Marbury denied that Ms. Sokolson-Gordon was the photographer at [her] Marbury's wedding..." saying "I hired a paid photography company to photograph my wedding...I don't care who messes with whom, so long as it's not with my husband!" (OEO report #C-0084/13, dated March 11, 2013, written by Victoria A. Ajibade, Esq., and signed by Ms. Ajibade, OEO Executive Director Mecca Santana, and Courtenaye Jackson-Chase, General Counsel to Chancellor Dennis Walcott).
Everyone at the school knows that this statement by Salema is a lie.
I was told that in November 2013,
Judy Gerowitz UFT District 21 Rep, (pictured at right) came into the PS 329 building for a UFT meeting with the staff. PS329 did not have a chapter leader in the building at the time and Judy was there to represent the staff. She signed in at the front desk and showed her ID to the safety officer and as she began to make her way to the main office to see the principal (a procedure done by UFT personnel to inform the principal that they are in the building) she was stopped and told that she had to be escorted to the office and could not walk through down the hall alone. Ms. Gerowitz felt disrespected and did not see the need for an escort, because she has always (for many years ) come into the building without any escort. Since Ms. Gerowitz is not a stranger to the school building, she proceeded to the main office to inform Principal Marbury that she was in the building to conduct a UFT MEETING. Upon entering the main office Ms. Marbury began yelling at Judy in front of other staff and parents. Judy asked Marbury to please lower her voice and if they could please talk in her (Marbury's) office. Ms. Marbury became more irate and yelled "absolutely not!" Judy then left the office and proceeded to the meeting. The incident was then reported to superintendent.
Meanwhile, on or about September 2012, OSI Investigator Lawrence Scott came to PS 329 to investigate an incident in which the principal claimed that Natalya had interfered with her internal investigation and had collected statements from students. Mr. Scott gave her his card.
On November 14, 2012 Natalya was summoned to Mr. Scott's office at 65 Court Street along with her UFT Representative to discuss the incident where a student's arm was dislocated by another teacher. Principal Marbury filled out an incident report saying that it was Natalya who harmed the student. However, the mother had a police report saying the perpetrator was NOT Natalya, and Natalya told Mr. Scott that the incident as detailed by the Principal was false. She and Scott discussed other events involving Salema at the school which
Natalya gave these details: "Later the same day, Scott texted me and then called me to say that he liked me and wanted to help me. He said he "understood my situation" and 'would be willing to help me because he didn't like my principal and she didn't seem like a nice person'.
On January 15 he came back to my building. We were ushered into a room by the principal's secretary which was ruined by Sandy, with no lights and no heat, that was isolated from the rest of the building on the first floor. During his conversation with me he told me that he was hoping that by the time he leaves he would be able to un-substantiate the allegations against me, while he was touching my breasts and placing his hands between my legs. The meeting was recorded. I left the room after he got up and asked me to touch him, and became more and more aggressive. I thought that he would help me with the situation at the school. I was afraid for my life and career. I was told to be quiet.
Now she is going to fight and has the audio tapes and texts to prove what she says. I, for one, believe every word.