NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- David Diamond, Assistant Director of Special Education at New Rochelle High School, returned to work last week after an unexplained month-long absence which began in March.
Talk of the Sound has confirmed through multiple sources that his absence followed a meeting at City Hall in which school officials sought Diamond’s resignation after the latest in a series of complaints by high school employees of inappropriate behavior by Diamond involving male students.
According to sources with direct knowledge of the investigation, on or about March 23rd, a teacher entered David Diamond’s office because she was hungry. Diamond is known for keeping a large supply of food in his office.
The teacher has reportedly alleged that she saw Diamond seated at his desk and a 17-year old male student standing behind Diamond’s desk. The boy’s shirt was allegedly pulled up over his chest and Diamond had both hands on the student’s stomach, rubbing the student's body. Diamond was described as “flushed” and red-faced as the teacher walked out, herself flustered and shocked and not sure what to do as Diamond is her boss.
The teacher reported the incident to New Rochelle High School Principal Joseph Starvaggi who, in turn, reported the incident to Assistant to the Superintendent Joseph Williams. Williams directed Starvaggi to have the teacher contact Williams directly which she did. The teacher described the incident including a description of the student whom she did not recognize.
The teacher put her allegation in writing and provided a copy to Starvaggi and Williams.
Within the hour of talking to the teacher, Williams is said to have emailed the teacher a photo of the same student, asking her to confirm that the student in the photo was the student she saw in Diamond’s office. It was the same student. The student was known to Williams from a previous incident involving Diamond; the same student had been described by other high school staff. During a previous investigation, the student told administrators that he often slept under Diamond’s desk in his office.
Diamond, who is the Advisor to the New Rochelle High School Gay-Straight Alliance, has been warned on multiple occasions about “hosting" students in his office, with the door closed. Diamond keeps a large supply of cookies and other treats and drinks in his office.
After receiving the allegations from the teacher, Diamond was called to City Hall by Williams and ordered not to return to work until further notice. Diamond was told not to enter school grounds or communicate with anyone at the District. As a result, even Diamond’s own secretary did not know why Diamond suddenly disappeared. High school staff members believed Diamond had been taken ill. Diamond was allowed back to work on Monday April 24.
Upon his return last week one teacher sought to raise money to buy balloons and edible flowers as a “welcome back” present for Diamond.
The allegations of inappropriate behavior with students goes back to the beginning of Diamond’s hiring in New Rochelle about 5 years ago, according to several sources.
Talk of the Sound has the names of several current or former District employees who reported incidents, in some cases multiple incidents, to New Rochelle High School Principal Reginald Richardson and Starvaggi. As a result, Diamond was ordered not to close the door to his office when students were in his office.
At a meeting in City Hall after the most recent allegations, school officials met with Diamond and his lawyer. the District asked for Diamond’s resignation. Diamond refused, denying the allegations, claiming he had done nothing wrong.
There is no record among existing school board resolutions of a suspension of an administrator at New Rochelle High School but Diamond was not allowed to return to work for a month, departing on or around March 24th and returning on April 24th.
Due to the serious nature of the allegations, Talk of the Sound took the extraordinary step of providing a copy of the final draft of this story to David Diamond and Sara Richmond 24 hours before publication.
Sara Richmond a lawyer at Bond, Schoeneck & King and former New Rochelle School Board President, is handling the case for the District.
Diamond did not respond to this or any other outreach by by Talk of the Sound. Richmond did respond. She did not deny the report or that allegations have been made against Diamond. She did ask that Talk of the Sound provide her with names of any other witnesses which we declined to do as the District already has such information.
Under New York State law, the various staff and administrators are all “Mandated Reporters” and are required to report any credible allegations of abuse of a child to Child Protective Services or the police.
New Rochelle Police Captain Robert Gazzola told Talk of the Sound that Richmond contacted the General Investigations Unit several weeks ago about an alleged incident but that based on her description of the incident, no investigation was initiated by the NRPD.
“Without a complaint from the child or the parent, we have no basis to move forward with an investigation", said Gazzola. “The lawyer for the District said she informed the parents of the incident.”
Talk of the Sound has learned of four different versions of events the day of the most recent alleged incident: what the teacher reported to Starvaggi and Williams or that nothing at all happened or that Diamond only had his hand on the boy’s shoulder and then another version received directly from the student
Talk of the Sound spoke with the student and both parents together, at their home in New Rochelle. Informed that the purpose of the visit was to ask his parents about an alleged incident at the high school the boy said, in front of his parents, there was an incident involving a teacher who was "talking politics" in the classroom and that teachers was not supposed to do that.
Informed that this was not the issue and that the allegation involved inappropriate contact between him and David Diamond, the student stated that it was nothing, “he was just taking my measurements”.
The father confirmed that he had been contacted by “a lady from the District” (based on the statement by police, presumably Richmond) and that he was told about an incident but told by "the lady" that it was “no big deal”. The family did not consult an attorney but rather relied on the School Distrct's lawyer.
It is not clear that Richmond ever provided the police department or the parents a full accounting of the incident, the past history of incidents involving the boy, other incidents involving other students or that the District had repeatedly warned Diamond about inappropriate behavior with students in his office or that the District had sought Diamond’s resignation.
Although the complaint was supposed to be kept confidential, Starvaggi contacted the teacher who made the complaint in March to tell her that David Diamond knows she made the complaint. The teacher is new and works under David Diamond so became concerned about her job safety. She reached out to F.U.S.E. officials for support.
The teacher was told that she will no longer report to Diamond; she now reports to Yvette Goorevitch, Director of Special Education & Alternative Education for anything that pertains to special education and to Starvaggi for anything else.
After Talk of the Sound first reported on the matter, the District initiated an investigation to determine if school district employees were using District e-mail to provide information to Talk of the Sound.
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