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In report about sex abuse, a clue to the post-rubber room world

When investigators concluded that a Queens teacher had had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student, the city sent him home.

Two weeks later — today — police arrested I.S. 278 teacher Charles Oross and charged him with rape, criminal sexual act, and endangering the welfare of a child.

The detail about Oross being “reassigned to his home” can be found in a footnote of the report about his behavior released today by the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation. It offers one clue as to how the city is managing teachers accused of wrongdoing now that they cannot be sent to reassignment centers known as “rubber rooms.”

Until last year, teachers accused of inappropriate behavior languished in the rubber rooms, sometimes for years, while awaiting discipline hearings. But after Mayor Bloomberg awakened to the existence of the rooms, he pushed for them to be dismantled. Part of the city-union deal shutting the rubber rooms down was that teachers whose cases were pending trial could be given work assignments.

For a couple of weeks in November, Oross was assigned to 49-51 Chambers Street, the Emigrant Savings Bank building that houses city offices. That is a more typical destination for teachers removed from their schools in the era after rubber rooms.

But city and union officials said today that the rubber room deal had introduced the possibility of assigning teachers to their homes.

They said the option is used rarely, and only in extreme cases. The SCI report says Oross’s home assignment was for “during his regular workday hours” and notes that he was “subject to random contact or visitation” during that time.

Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon launched the investigation into Oross in August, after a tipster reported his behavior to the New York Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Unit. Condon recommended that the DOE move to terminate Oross and bar him from any employment in or around city schools in the future.

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