A Brooklyn middle teacher who was fired over allegations that she had a long sexual relationship with a 12-year-old student is suing to get her job back.
Back in 2011, 45-year-old Claudia Tillery was accused bribing the student, then a sixth-grader, with alcohol and marijuana during a two-year sexual relationship. Tillery, who worked for 15 years at The Stephen Decatur Middle School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, was acquitted of all criminal charges in April 2014, and argues that the "Department of Education’s hearing officer improperly used sealed evidence, DNA tests and the prosecutor’s testimony."
However, despite being acquitted of criminal charges, the hearing officer said Tillery demonstrated "conduct unbecoming" of a teacher for a multitude of reasons: she let the student in her Crown Heights home without the permission of his parents, she took the teen to Atlantic Motor motel on at least seven occasions, and gave him around $500 and a phone.
DOE officer Haydee Rosario also noted in her report that a DNA test revealed both the student’s and the teacher’s saliva were on the teacher’s comforter cover. "Such failure, I find, not only constitutes conduct that is prejudicial to the good order and discipline of her service but, most importantly, sheds light about the true nature of her relationship with Student A," Rosario said.
Rosario also says the student recorded a video that shows his teacher putting her pants on in a motel room. Tillery and her young charge exchanged 8,000 text messages over two years using pseudonyms. In one message the teacher texted, “What’s up babe?”
Finally Tillery’s own credit-card records put her at the Motor Inn on seven occasions. Rosario didn’t buy the teacher’s claim that she simply took the student to the motel to “get him off the street” when he called her “upset and scared.”
Tillery argued that the 12-year-old "concocted a grand conspiracy and coerced her, a middle-school teacher, to ignore sound judgment and to put him into a fleabag motel and give him hundreds of dollars." Rosario rejected this explanation: "Her defense of 'he made me do it' reasoning, that Student A, a minor entrusted to her care, caused all of her misery that she endured during her criminal trial and during this disciplinary proceeding, serves to demonstrate why termination of her employment is the only appropriate penalty in this case," Rosario said.