A worker cleaning Matthew’s classroom found a CD with photos of the student “in various stages of undress.” He brought the CD to the attention of the authorities.
An enquiry by the New York City Department of Education found Matthews guilty of sexual wrongdoing. Their investigations found that he had intimidated a 17-year old female student into posing for explicit photos. The photos were taken in a classroom cage that was purportedly used for storing things. He mislead her into believing that the photographs were for “attracting college recruiters and employers.”
Apart from taking the inappropriate photos the teacher was also found guilty of involving the teenager in improper behavior that included “fondling her breasts and private areas.”
The girl allegedly tried to stop the sessions once, but he insisted they go on, telling her, “no, bo-boo, we’re just getting started.” He would keep her after class telling her she was in danger of failing and needed extra help.
She said that she was afraid to be more insistent on stopping his advances as she was afraid that he would fail her in class or even hurt her. The teen said that she was traumatized and kept it a secret because it she was feeling embarrassed.
Matthews would ask her to expose more of herself to look more attractive and sexier for the imaginary college portfolio.
When news broke out of the teacher’s involvement it hardly sounded credible given that Matthews had been working in New York City schools since 2000 and was known nationally for the quality of his teaching and his innovative methods.
He had been praised by the former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige and invited to Washington DC to lecture on interdisciplinary lessons and the use of multi-media in the classroom. Moreover, his use of brain exercises and memory tools had also received national commendation.
His perverted and despicable behavior is all the more hard to comprehend given that his teaching abilities merited a mention in acclaimed author Joshua Foer’s best-selling book “Moonwalking with Einstein.”
Twice he won the Teacher of the Year award and his teaching techniques saw a 100 percent passing rate for the New York state academic skills test, in a school where an overwhelming majority, 90 percent, was below average in math and reading.
“You would never think in a million years that this could happen. He was always the first one in and the last one out of the building, staying late, tutoring kids,” said a source from the school.
The Bronx high school is located in a lower income area and caters primarily to minority students. Since most of the students were below average Matthews often stayed late in his classroom after normal school hours to provide extra coaching to needy students.
Matthews pleaded guilty in March to one count of misdemeanor sexual abuse for the fondling and in June was sentenced to a year of probation.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education has confirmed that Matthews will never teach in the city again.