2012-04-04 / Front Page

Haldane History Teacher Busted

Update from District: He won't teach while charges are pending
By Eric Gross
and Douglas Cunningham


UPDATE: The Haldane teacher accused of engaging in sexually explicit online chat conversation with someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl will not teach at Haldane while the charges are pending, Superintendent Mark Villanti said Thursday. 

Further, the district will make counselors available when school resumes on Tuesday.

The Haldane High School teacher, Joseph Sayers, 43, of Hawthorne, is facing a four-year state prison term. He was arraigned Tuesday in White Plains City Court on one charge of attempted disseminating indecent materials to a minor—a Class E felony. He is a tenured social studies teacher at Haldane, with the district for 10 years.

The district said Thursday in a statement that “Mr. Sayers will not return to the classroom while the charges are pending. New York State Education law requires that Mr. Sayers is paid during this period of time.”

Villanti had said earlier in the week: “I am saddened and upset upon learning of this information. There is very little that I can say publicly because it is a personnel matter. Student safety is of paramount importance in the district and we will take whatever necessary steps to insure that our students are safe. We have no reason to believe that any of the alleged activities involved the District or violated our Internet Acceptable Use Policy.”

Assistant Westchester District Attorney ToniAnn Gagliardi said that between March 5 and April 3, an investigator from her office, acting in an undercover capacity, assumed the “role” of the young teenager: “The undercover officer made it clear to the defendant that ‘she’ was a 15-year-old girl, yet the defendant discussed specific sexual acts in which he would like to engage.”

Following arraignment, Sayers was sent to the Westchester County Jail on $20,000 bail pending an April 17 court hearing.

Villanti promised that the district would fully cooperate with officials as the investigation continues.

The school district’s statement concluded that an active search for a suitable replacement is well underway: “Pending Board of Education approval on April 10th, a highly qualified teacher will be appointed as a leave replacement. Principal Brian Alm has notified the students impacted by this leave and will also inform the students and their families of the recommended replacement. Counseling services are available to any student who wishes to discuss this or any related situation when they return to school on Tuesday, April 10th.”


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