They looked like a young couple in love. They kissed at red lights. They kissed while sitting in the park. But what the popular NYC high school teacher and her student, 18, didn't know — it was all being caught on tape.
The scene, reported in the New York Post Wednesday, was captured on camera by another student after school at Manhattan Theater Lab HS last Friday.
The student, who requested anonymity, followed the 26-year-old teacher Julie Warning
and her 18-year-old student Eric Arty from the time they met up in front of a shoe store in SoHo until they settled on a bench in a park, her legs intertwined with Arty's, kissing and holding each other passionately for more than 30 minutes, the NY Post says.
“She’s definitely the most appealing teacher in the school,” said the student who filmed them. “She always wore nice skirts, and she had appealing tattoos all over her body.”
She had appealing tattoos all over her body? (See through clothing?)
The Daily Mail says that pictures on Warning's Facebook page show her double-fisting beers, partying with cigarettes tucked behind her ear and drinking out of a beer bong.
It’s just a girl I know
When confronted with the evidence, both student and teacher denied their involvement.
“Yeah, that’s me. I’m kissing a girl,” Arty said when confronted with the photo. “That’s not my teacher that I’m kissing in the picture. It’s just a girl I know.”
And Warning, well, she was camping with friends at the time.
“He is my student but I’ve never had a relationship with him or any of my students,” said Warning. “That is inappropriate.”
“It doesn’t seem like her style,” her father, Pete Warning told the Post.
Says Warning: "I think that this is a misunderstanding."
The New York City Department of Education (DOE) seems not to think so. They decided to reassign the Global-studies teacher, to an administrative position Tuesday and turn the matter over to the department’s special commissioner of investigations, officials said, according to the New York Post who broke the story.
The Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI), according to their website, has broad authority to investigate fraud, misconduct, conflicts of interest, and other wrongdoing within the New York City School District.
"My office is committed to the safety and welfare of the City’s student population," says a message from the Special Commissioner, "and a major portion of our work involves investigations of those who would prey on schoolchildren."
“The photo is of a teacher and she has been reassigned,” a DOE spokeswoman said. Asked about Warning, an SCI official confirmed, “We have a case.”
Reactions from this case has been mixed. Some believe that it's no big deal. "They are both consenting Adults!!!" said Ian Treasure on the Post's website. "I don't see anything wrong with her being with 18yo former student. so what?? if [sic]he were 17 and still a student then there would be an issue."
Commenting on the NY Post story through Facebook Lee Isabella Montana, a student from the school writes:
you people need to mind your business this was her personal life , she is a good teacher. half of us feel ready for our regents..this happend [sic] outside of school on her own personal time. she never showed him any special attention on school hours.
Others noticed a double standard. "I wonder how she'd feel if a male teacher in her school was spotted behaving like this with some of her girl students?"
Still others, believe Warning should be fired. "Do we send kids to school to be abused and used for the sexual satisfaction of teachers?" asks Bill Kulls, another commenter. "Fire her!"
New legislation to dismiss teachers
Kulls' comment, referring to Warning's dismissal, could become a reality as Warning's reassignment comes just as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott and State Senator Stephen M. Saland announced on Tuesday new legislation to give school districts enhanced abilities to dismiss teachers who engage in acts of inappropriate sexual conduct against students.
Under current teacher discipline law, the Department of Education has been prevented from terminating teachers in cases where the City’s own independent investigator found instances of inappropriate sexual conduct, the statement said:
For example, the Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI) found one teacher inappropriately touched a number of female students’ buttocks, breasts, waists, stomachs and necks.
The Department of Education filed charges to dismiss the individual – the second such attempt. However, the hearing officer determined that the individual hugged one student and hugged and tickled another on her waist, dismissing or withdrawing other all other charges.
The hearing officer imposed only a 45-day paid suspension and then permitted the teacher to return to the classroom. The Department of Education is now preparing to file new charges based on other allegations.
“If a school employee is found to have engaged in sexual behavior or made sexual comments towards students, the Chancellor should have the final say on what action to take and the legislation we are proposing would provide that authority,” said Mayor Bloomberg in a press release.
The news release also explained that the nature of inappropriate sexual conduct has less to do with the student having felt that he or she was exploited, than it has to do with the teacher-student relationship and abuse of power.
“Teachers often serve as role models for our students and for the community, and it’s devastating to learn when their position of trust has been abused. Given the grave nature of the cases involving educational professionals who are charged with inappropriate sexual conduct with a student, it is critically important that these charges are addressed in an expedited manner.”
“The safety of our students is paramount,” said Bernard P. Pierorazio, Superintendent of Yonkers Public Schools and member of the Conference of Big 5 School Districts. “This legislation ensures that we may take swift action to remove a tenured employee whose egregious behavior warrants, not only disciplinary measures, but dismissal."