Mistake in Public School Roster Sends Child Abuse Investigators to Catholic School Family’s Doorstep

Tags: Currents Catholic Education, Crux, Currents, Currents News, Education

By Emily Drooby

“This is his real report card,” said Margaret Greene-Tomasi as she flipped through a folder that also contained two fake report cards which had set off a child abuse investigation.

“This was the letter from ACS that it was suspected child abuse or maltreatment,” she told Currents News, speaking of the letter which was also in that same folder.

It started when the Administration for Children’s Services, or ACS, showed up at their door.

Margaret described the interaction to Currents News:

“’I said ACS?’ And she said, ‘Yes. Yhere is an investigation open for John Tomasi.’ I said, ‘For what?’ She said, ‘Well he’s not attending Cobble Hill High School.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s crazy, because he attends Xaverian High School.”

John had been attending the Bay Ridge Catholic high school all year. The former Catholic Academy student had never been to public school.

However, for some reason, John was on the roster at Cobble Hill School of American Studies in Brooklyn. They never got the message he wasn’t coming. He was marked absent for months, prompting the abuse investigation.

John’s mom says the visit was terrifying and included interviews, a search of their home and even physically checking John for signs of abuse.

“Somebody knocked on your door and they can potentially take your child from your home,” she explained. “Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen, that didn’t happen. But for the first time in my life that could happen, and there are no words.”

And that wasn’t all: around the same time, a public-school report card came for John. It was filled out, he had grades and even comments.

Margaret could not get in touch with the school so that they could clear up their mistake. Finally, someone from the Department of Education said they would take John off the list. At the same time, the ACS investigation came back as unfounded.

“And I thought, okay, this is over,” said Margaret. But then a second report card showed up.

“When I got that second report card I was afraid. I thought, ‘Can they reopen another investigation on me, he’s still in that system?'”

Only after her story spread did the deputy superintendent for Brooklyn North Schools finally assured her it was a mistake.

But Margaret still isn’t 100 percent sure that it is over. Further, the trauma is long-lasting — so is the ACS record.

“And it doesn’t get expunged for another ten years, so it’s closed, but I don’t know what that means, how closed is it? That’s very frightening to me,” said Margaret.

She says they only had one warning from the school back in October, when she received John’s schedule in the mail. After multiple calls and emails to the school, she figured it was just a mistake, a decision she greatly regrets. Still, she’s confused as to how it got this far.

“How do you admit someone? They have no transcripts, they have no immunization records, he’s never been to public school, so where did this child come from,” she asked.

One of the reasons Margaret is speaking out about this situation is to warn other parents to stay vigilant and to never give up.

Currents News reached out to the school but we haven’t heard back.

The Department of Education sent a statement reading, “This should not have happened, and this matter has been referred for investigation. We will take follow up action as appropriate,” elaborating that the specifically it was referred to the Special Commissioner of Investigation.

For Margaret, the pandemic was a factor in trying to get this situation fixed. With a lot of people working from home at both the school and the DOE, Margaret had to rely on phone calls and emails, which weren’t always answered.