BRONX — A substitute teacher was dumped by the city after she sought relationship advice from a fourth-grade class in the Bronx, investigators say.
The Department of Education fired Cassandre Fiering, 45, in December for asking students at P.S. 189 to help her chose between the two men she was dating, according to investigators.
The class, which had only five students, told her to break up with the younger of the two boyfriends because he had not returned her phone calls, investigators say.
Fiering’s dilemma was detailed in a report by investigators for the office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation for New York City Schools, records show. They started the probe after students told school officials they counseled Fiering about her romantic life. DNAinfo New York obtained the report under a Freedom of Information Law request.
Fiering, who also acts in commercials and has had small roles in movies and TV, was teaching a fourth-grade class on June 13, 2013 when she opened up about her love life, according to the report.
Investigators say she acted out scenarios in which the kids were her and she was the boyfriends. She complained that the younger boyfriend, a mechanic in Rhode Island, didn’t return her phone calls, according to the report.
Students told investigators she called them her “munchkins” and asked her to toilet paper the mechanic’s home, according to the report.
The report says Fiering hugged one student, tapped another on his shoulder and touched the thighs of two other students.
Fiering told investigators she did not inappropriately touch any student and couldn’t remember if she hugged one of them, the report says.
While on her way to an acting audition on Tuesday, Fiering told DNAinfo that she did talk to the students about her romantic life but the conversation was harmless and done in fun.
“The kids were saying, ‘Oh, we’re your counselor,’” Fiering recalled. “They were excited to have me listen to their advice. … They were saying all kinds of things, trying to help me because this guy was being a jerk to me.”
“It was also G-rated,” she added. “I certainly wasn’t talking about sex or anything.”
Fiering, who splits her time between Astoria and Rhode Island, said she only started working for the DOE in March 2013. But she said she has worked as an educator for decades — including teaching stints in Oakland and Rhode Island — and was never accused of impropriety.
She said she is appealing her firing and adamantly denied touching any of the students, claiming the investigators put words in her mouth.
“They made it seem like I was this gross person fondling all the children,” she said.
Fiering admitted that in retrospect she should have kept her mouth shut about her relationships — but said her poor judgment didn't merit her termination.
“I crossed the line I shouldn’t have,” she said. “[But] considering everything else, why couldn’t they say, ‘Be careful about that?’”
Fiering seems to have heeded the students' advice on romance. She said she has since broken off her relationships with both men.
“The younger guy was just a weird guy and I never really figured it out,” she said. “He was very strange and it upset me. He gave a lot of mixed messages. I think I just had to give up.”
As for the older of the two suitors, Fiering said she just wasn’t that into him.
“He still calls and still likes me,” she said. “He’s very sweet, but not really right for me.”