Ex-JEC teacher investigated for ‘inappropriate’ contact

Ex-JEC teacher investigated for ‘inappropriate’ contact

Elizabeth, Teaneck yeshivas notify parents

The Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth and the Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck have both sent letters to their faculty, staff, and parent bodies informing them that a female teacher who used to be on their respective staffs is being investigated for having inappropriate sexual contact with students.

They said the police were immediately informed, and that the alleged incidents — which happened some time before this year — are under investigation, but that no formal charges have been made.

In his letter, JEC associate dean Rabbi Eliyahu Teitz said that the teacher “left our employ of her own volition a few years ago.”

He said the school learned of the allegations on Dec. 1 when a former student called the school. He said that the behavior — which apparently occurred off campus — had not previously been reported to the school, and there had been “no other indications that would have raised even the slightest concern.”

He said that those with any direct knowledge related to any similar allegations should contact Detective Ralph Garcia of the Elizabeth Police Department.

The JEC letter to parents reads as follows:

Dear JEC Faculty, Staff and Parents,

In our need to be transparent in today’s confusing world, we regret to inform you that the police are investigating a former JEC teacher on allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with students in two schools, including JEC. The teacher left our employ of her own volition a few years ago. 

We first became aware of the allegations regarding a JEC student when an alumnus called us on December 1. We notified the police of the allegation as is our moral and legal obligation. At this stage there is only an investigation; no formal charges have been made. 

At no time before December 1 were we aware of any allegations of any improper relationships or actions by this former teacher with any JEC students. We had not previously received any reports of improper behavior, and there were no other indications that would have raised even the slightest concern. While we do not yet know all the facts, it does appear that these alleged acts of sexual misconduct by this former teacher with  JEC students occurred off campus.

Your children’s safety is our greatest concern.  It always has been and will continue to always be.  Our actions in this situation are guided by this overarching principle.

This is a very painful time for all of us.  Processing the information and its implications will take time.  We have retained the service of Dr. Yitzchak Schecter, director of the Center for Applied Psychology of Bikur Cholim Partners in Health, to guide us in training our staff and in preparing presentations for parents and, on an age appropriate level, for students.  In addition, Dr. Schecter will continue to consult with us as we progress through this trying period.  We will announce a schedule of presentations, and a description of those sessions, for both students and parents in the coming days. Parents will have the opportunity to opt their children out of these meetings if that is their choice.

Please understand that the investigation is not in our hands.  The Elizabeth police department is handling the local investigation.  We have given them a complete accounting of all information we have, and for obvious reasons that information confidential.  We will continue to cooperate with the investigation in every way we can.

Should you have any direct knowledge related to any similar allegations, you should contact Detective Ralph Garcia of the Elizabeth Police Department directly, at 908.558.2105.  Should you have any concerns or questions regarding this matter or the programs we are planning, feel free to contact me directly, preferably by email (edteitz@thejec.org ) or by phone (908.355.4850 x112).

Painful as this situation is, it is an opportunity for us to come together as a community, to give strength to those who need it and to offer support to each other.  Working together, we will be able to face this most challenging episode.

Very truly yours,

Rabbi Eliyahu D Teitz
Associate Dean

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