By Daniel Rubin-Marx, SIECUS Program Research Intern
Grover Cleveland High School in Queens lost a science teacher following his graphic lesson on pelvic exams. Instructor Dyrel Bartee was reported to have reclined behind his desk where he proceeded to spread his legs apart while demonstrating to his class how a pelvic exam is conducted. According to students, he "touched his crotch and said, 'This is the doctors' favorite part because they get to put their fingers inside their women patients.'"1 When he later discussed the effects of sexually transmitted infections, Bartee grabbed his groin area and made an "oohing" sound before the class.
Bartee resigned in April 2012 but the complaints refer to conduct observed over a year earlier, in 2011. Students voiced mixed views about his departure. "He was a great teacher, very motivated to teach his students," said Amy Casulo.2 But Laura Morón, a junior who witnessed the infamous demonstration, described Bartee as "boring and weird."3 Leslie Sanchez agreed: "I seen it [sic] for myself, he was a creep…the way he looked at girls wasn't appropriate, and me, I really didn't feel comfortable. But I didn't really say anything."4
Parents were just as unhappy with his behavior. Said of one father of a student, "It's crazy because I have a daughter and I don't want her to go through this. She goes to public school, I want to be careful."5
The situation with Bartee provided further motivation for City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to push for swifter discipline for public school teachers accused of sexual misconduct. Walcott told the New York Times that, "…in our public schools, we are often unable to properly punish sexual misconduct even after it has been established by investigators. As a result, the teacher in question often remains in the classroom."6
The conduct of the science teacher, while not representative of most New York City school personnel, illustrates the need for more professional training to better prepare teachers of sexuality topics whose professional specialization is not in human sexuality.
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1Kerry Burke and Ben Chapman, "Ed Dept. Cans Sick Sex-Ed Instructor," Daily News, 16 June 2012, accessed 27 June 2012, <http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-06-16/news/32258880_1_ed-dept-desk-duty-students>.
2Ellyn Marks, "Queens HS Teacher Gets The Boot After Going Too Far in Sex-Ed Class," KTLA.com, 17 June 2012, accessed 27 June 2012, <http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/wpix-high-school-teacher-sex-education-doe-ban-story,0,3119627.story>.
3 Ben Yakas, "Queens Teacher Fired for Creepy Gynecological Lessons," Gothamist, 16 June 2012, accessed 27 June 2012, <http://gothamist.com/2012/06/16/queens_teacher_fired_for_creepy_gyn.php>.
4 "Queens Teacher Banned From City Schools For Over-The-Top Sex Ed Class," NewYork.CBSLocal.com, 16 June 2012, accessed 2 July 2012, <http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/06/16/queens-teacher-banned-from-city-schools-for-over-the-top-sex-ed-class/>.
6Mary Ann Giordano, "Walcott Pushes for Easier Firing in Sexual Misconduct Cases," NewYork Times, 15 June 2012, accessed 3 July 2012, <http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/06/15/walcott-pushes-for-easier-firing-in-sexual-misconduct-cases/>.