EAST FLATBUSH, Brooklyn - New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina addressed allegations that at least five students at It Takes a Village Academy were sexually assaulted by upperclassmen in the boys' locker room and the school principal failed to involve the proper authorities.
"The minute we heard about this, we removed the principal," Farina said. "If it is necessary to remove more people in the building we will do that as well."
An incident report obtained exclusively by 7 On Your Side Investigates details the allegations that at least five ninth-grade students in the Individualized Education Program, reserved for students with special needs, were inappropriately touched and neither the NYPD or superintendent were contacted.
"These are people's babies. These are people's children," said a mother of one of the alleged victims, speaking exclusively to 7 On Your Side Investigates. "So, what message does that send to them that they are unimportant? Everybody in that building failed them."
Farina reiterated an investigation is underway and added that a city-wide memo had been sent out to school leaders reminding them of their responsibilities to involve authorities, such as police and the superintendent, whenever they become aware of a crime that may have been committed.
Farina made those comments following an engagement at Richard R. Green High School where she spoke with aspiring teachers about the importance making students feel important.
Three student at ITAVA, two 16-year-old and one 15-year-old, have been suspended since the allegations.
ITAVA Principal Marina Vinitskaya has also been removed from the school pending the investigation.
Students went home with a note for parents Wednesday which read in part, "Assistant Principal Veneziano has been in his role since 2010 and my office will work closely with him to support students, staff and family while we select a new leader for the school."
While Farina promised a thorough investigation of school leadership, she also deflected some responsibility onto parents.
On Thursday, parents attending parent-teacher conferences at ITAVA said they planned to ask how the school is insuring proper supervision and protect their kids.
"I want parents to understand that this is their responsibility and if you don't feel you are getting the right reaction you go to the next level," Farina said.
When 7 On Your Side Investigates asked whether it was right that parents be put in that position when dealing with a mandatory reporter, Farina replied, "No, absolutely not. But how do I know the mandatory reporter didn't do it unless they go to the next level?"
7 On Your Side Investigates was the first to report on these allegations Wednesday, and spoke exclusively to a victim's mother Thursday.