BROOKLYN — The Department of Education is trying to fire a teacher after she complained that a DOE investigator made unwanted advances while investigating allegations against her.
Natalya Sokolson, 44, who taught at P.S. 329 in Coney Island, was under investigation by Education Department Office of Special Investigations staffer Lawrence Scott, 40, when the pair struck up a sexting relationship, according to a report by the independent Special Commissioner of Investigation.
Between Nov. 2012 and Oct. 2013, Solokson and Scott exchanged a series of lewd text messages, which Sokolson never reported to her supervisors or the DOE, officials said.
The exchanges grew more heated as Scott's investigation neared an end, officials said.
"work is work nothing will change how I proceed with the investigation u can't make worse and u can't make it better this is separate interaction personal is personal," Scott texted to Sokolson on Nov. 14, 2012, according to a copy of their exchanges provide by her lawyer, Peter J. Gleason.
"Glad we on the same page… Cause meeting u I already won the case… Even if I loose," she texted back, according to the papers.
"U talk this way to everyone u investigate mr Scott," Sokolson once wrote in response to a racy message about sex, according to documents.
Scott, who told his supervisors that the allegations against Sokolson were unsubstantiated, resigned immediately after being confronted by SCI investigators on Oct. 4, about his activities, admitting, "Yes, I f**ked up," according to the report.
But a lawyer for Sokolson, who has since been reassigned to an administrative office and is currently under investigation on accusations including improper supervision of students, unprofessional behavior, corporal punishment and verbal abuse of students, a DOE source said, said the report unfairly attacks his client.
Sokolson, who started teaching in 1996, only responded to Scott's advances for fear of losing her job, her lawyer said.
"The smug, sexist, self-protectionist conclusions of the SCI report are offensive and only serve to re-victimize Ms. Sokolson, a 20-year veteran of the Department of Education with an impeccable record," Gleason said in a statement.
Scott initially started investigating Sokolson after her school's principal made "specious allegations" against her, including that she "invited a female teacher to have a lesbian experience with her," according to Gleason.
Gleason added that Sokolson worked in an unprofessional environment and that the allegations were only made against her after she complained about a "work place being run more akin to a frat house than a school house."
Sokolson also accused Scott of pushing his groin against her during a meeting at P.S. 329 on Jan. 15, 2013, according to the report.
Apart from losing her $79,531 teaching job, Sokolson could also be barred from ever working for the DOE again.
“The actions displayed by both Scott and Sokolson are completely unacceptable for any Department of Education employee," the DOE said in a statement Tuesday. "We are currently seeking Sokolson’s termination and Scott is no longer eligible to work for the Department.”