ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- A 43-year-old special education teacher has been placed on administrative leave following her arrest on Thursday on charges she abused special education students enrolled in the North Rockland Central School District.
Yessenia Vasquez, 43, of Garnerville, a special-education teacher in the district, was charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled child, four counts of harassment, four counts of endangering the welfare of a minor and unlawful imprisonment following an investigation into allegations of abuse, said Lt. Keith Williams of the Stony Point Police Department.
Vasquez has been employed by the North Rockland Central School District since 1996.
Ileana Eckert, superintendent of the North Rockland Central School District, issued this statement on Friday afternoon:
"The criminal charges stem from a series of incidents that allegedly occurred in her classroom in 2016. This is an unfortunate matter, and the district is extremely disturbed by these allegations."
Eckert said that she first learned of possible wrongdoing on Dec. 8, 2016, and "immediately launched an internal investigation. This probe involved interviews with numerous staff members, including those present at the time of the alleged incidents."
On advice of legal counsel, Vasquez was placed on administrative leave. The matter was investigated and handled administratively. All appropriate procedures were followed by the district, Eckert said.
"The North Rockland Central School District is cooperating fully with the police investigation and will continue to provide whatever resources are necessary and appropriate to complete the latest probe in an accurate and timely fashion," Eckert wrote. "As always, the safety and well-being of our students is a top priority."
According to Lt. Williams, the investigation began after the state Child Abuse Hotline received a report in January of Vasquez abusing children, both physically and mentally, in her classroom.
The incidents reportedly took place between Feb. 1 and Nov. 28, 2016, Williams added.
Vasquez was released on her own recognizance and is scheduled to appear in court on March 21.
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