A former Harlem elementary school teacher is suing the Department of Education to remove her name from a blacklist that prevents her from working with children at programs funded by the city.
Monica Johnson, 49, was fired in 2008 when an investigation confirmed that she was having her students give her massages in class. School officials say Johnson had her fifth-grade students “rub lotion on her legs and feet and comb her hair during instruction time.”
Johnson worked various education-related positions following her firing but decided to sue after her application to work at a DOE-affiliated after-school program was denied.
“The nature of your professional misconduct, in addition to the exploitation of your position within the department, causes grave concern when considering your application for security clearance to work with a DOE-contracted vendor,” officials wrote to Johnson.
“The kids, they saw that I was trying to do something to rub my own legs and I guess they felt sorry for me and they tried to help me,” she said. Johnson said that the DOE was “looking at the past” and that she learned from her mistakes.