A celebrated teacher at a Manhattan charter school has been arrested for allegedly grooming and sexually assaulting a fourth grade student for several years.
Cesar Sanchez, a 39-year-old science and basketball teacher at KIPP Washington Heights, began making sexually suggestive comments when the girl was in fourth grade.
The girl, now aged 14, said he then progressed to groping her in middle school.
A second girl also accused Sanchez of behaving inappropriately, and blurring student-teacher lines like asking to be friends on Instagram.
In 2018, he was awarded the ‘Blackboard Award’ by the New York Family newsletter, and in his acceptance speech thanked parents for trusting him with their children.
He paid tribute to ‘the amazing families who trust me with their kids every single day.’
Cesar Sanchez is seen in 2018 being garlanded at the Blackboard Awards. In his speech, he paid tribute to ‘the amazing families who trust me with their kids every single day’
KIPP Washington Heights middle school fired both Sanchez and the principal, Danny Swersky
A criminal complaint was filed in Manhattan Criminal Court against Sanchez, a father of two whose wife is a principal at another KIPP school.
The alleged abuse stopped temporarily when classes went remote in March 2020, but in February 2021 Sanchez touched the girl’s breast and pushed his crotch against her, according to the complaint.
Sanchez was arraigned on December 23 and a judge set bail at $7,500.
He was charged with sexual conduct against a child and endangering child welfare and is due back in court next month.
Parents were informed on Thursday that Sanchez had been fired, as well as the principal Danny Swersky, for his handling of the case.
Swersky was terminated soon after Sanchez’s arrest for failing ‘to follow KIPP NYC’s procedures or meet KIPP NYC’s expectations in how he handled this matter,’ said superintendent Jim Manly in an email sent to parents on Thursday morning, obtained by The New York Daily News.
School principal Danny Swersky, pictured, has also been fired for failing to follow procedures with Sanchez
Both Sanchez and Swersky were suspended in 2019 in relation to an incident in which Sanchez exhibited ‘poor professional judgment on a school trip’ and Swersky failed to ‘handle it according to KIPP’s procedures,’ the paper reported.
The spokeswoman said the ‘suspensions did not pertain to any allegations of sexual misconduct or sexually inappropriate behavior’ or involve female students.
But parents were horrified by Sanchez’s arrest.
Rosie Perreaux, the mother of a sixth-grade student at KIPP Washington Heights middle school, told the paper: ‘We cannot wait for the crimes to be committed.
‘In this day and age we’re supposed to be preventing these things from happening.’
Sanchez has deleted his social media and not commented on the allegations.
It is the second allegation of sexual misconduct at a KIPP school in four months.
In August, Jesus Concepcion, a former orchestra conductor in the Bronx, was arrested for allegedly abusing and coercing middle and high school-aged students into sex between 2002 and 2007.
Prosecutors asked a judge in September to hold Concepcion without bail, saying he was a flight risk and danger to the community. Concepcion pleaded not guilty.
KIPP is a nationwide network of charter schools, with eight elementary schools in New York City, nine middle schools and one high school.