A Queens middle-school teacher let a 14-year-old student drive his car, gave him cash and expensive gifts, and exchanged hundreds of texts behind his parents’ back.
But, over the objections of the outraged parents and principal, the teacher can keep his job, an arbitrator has ruled.
James Rampulla Jr., 44, who taught at Irwin Altman MS 172 in Floral Park, sent some of the 513 texts to the boy after 11 p.m. and included the words “I love you,” according to evidence presented at the teacher’s administrative trial.
The boy also told investigators that Rampulla, while they both worked at World of Discovery Summer Day Camp in Bayside, once put a hand on his thigh, and let him watch pornography in his apartment, according to a report by Richard Condon, the special commissioner of investigation for city schools. Rampulla denied those allegations.
After an eight-day trial, hearing officer Mary J. O’Donnell found Rampulla guilty of misconduct, but not sexual misconduct as the city Department of Education contended. She suspended him without pay for the fall of 2014. He can return to the classroom after that, she ruled.
The case shows how an educator can avoid the ax even for blatant misbehavior. A tenured teacher cannot be fired unless a hearing officer agrees misconduct warrants termination.
But O’Donnell found insufficient evidence to decide whether Rampulla’s interest in the student was “paternal, familial or sexual.”
You may recall that World of Discovery had another incident similar to this in the past.