NEW SPRINGVILLE — A Staten Island teacher accused of "inappropriate behavior" against an autistic student went on a campaign of falsely claiming coworkers carried out similar abuse, a report by the schools' Special Commissioner of Investigation said.
James Burke, 27, who worked at P.S. 69, made numerous false claims of violence and abuse by other teachers and paraprofessionals working in his school and at other locations, a report released Tuesday said.
"Many of the allegations described conduct which was similar to the conduct Burke committed in the prior substantiated SCI case, including tickling and other inappropriate touching of students," Special Commissioner Richard Condon said in the report.
The report said that Burke, who was listed as a third-grade teacher on P.S. 69's website, also falsely told officials at St. John's Villa Academy that he saw the 14-year-old daughter of a witness against him dealing drugs on school property.
Investigators were able to pin the calls on Burke after they saw a number listed as his was used to make at least one of the 13 false claims, the report said.
Burke could not be reached for comment.
The claims started on July 26, 2013 when an anonymous male caller claimed to be the father of a 7-year-old student at P.S. 69. The caller said a female teacher touched the private parts of the student several times in a classroom, the report states.
An officer with the NYPD's Staten Island Special Victims Squad looked into the case and determined that the crime wasn't committed and the student didn't even know his father, the report said.
From then until Oct. 21, 2013, anonymous calls of similar claims flooded into P.S. 69, Tottenville High School, Staten Island Technical High School, St. John Villa and the Mark Twain Intermediate School. They all turned out to be false.
The SCI later traced the claims back to the number Burke gave them during their previous investigation.
Many of the allegations Burke made anonymously were similar to the ones investigators found Burke had himself been accused of.
The original case against him started on May 31, 2013, after the dean of P.S. 69 complained and investigators found Burke had displayed "inappropriate behavior" towards an 8-year-old male autistic student, the report said.
Burke was reassigned after the findings in September and agreed to resign in March as part of the settlement, the SCI said.
Condon said his office will refer the report to Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan.