DOE says former THHS teacher accused of sexual misconduct will not be at Science Olympiad event, clearing the way for THHS team to compete this Saturday

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In December, The New York Post reported that city investigators substantiated allegations that former chemistry teacher Thomas Sangiorgi inappropriately touched and made inappropriate comments to students before retiring in 2016 to settle these sexual misconduct charges. Last month, The Classic reported that Mr. Sangiorgi remained the site coordinator for the Science Olympiad region in which THHS’s team competes and was scheduled to oversee an event with students from multiple schools, including THHS, at a DOE high school this Saturday. The Classic can now report that, according to the NYC Department of Education (DOE), Mr. Sangiorgi will not be attending the upcoming Science Olympiad regional tournament.

“Our schools must be safe and welcoming environments for all students, and this individual is not cleared to work in our schools. The DOE took action to ensure he would not be on site or working with students at the upcoming Science Olympiad,” DOE spokesperson Sarah Casasnovas wrote in an email to The Classic.

In a previous interview, Principal Brian Condon told The Classic he had spoken to the DOE in December once he became aware of Mr. Sangiorgi’s position in Science Olympiad and petitioned his superiors to take action on the situation.

“​​I would not send my students to [the Science Olympiad regional tournament] if he was still there,” Mr. Condon told The Classic last month.

Earlier today, Mr. Condon told The Classic that he had received assurances that Mr. Sangiorgi would not be at the tournament, and as a result, said “I believe it is safe to send our kids.”

The Science Olympiad team said that teachers and the school administration had informed them that Mr. Sangiorgi was not going to be present at the event two weeks ago.

“Before [receiving news that Mr. Sangiorgi was not going to be at the event], the Townsend Harris Science Olympiad teams were not allowed to partake in the Regional Competition as our supervisors and Mr. Condon wanted to prioritize the safety of students after the allegations made in December,” said senior and Science Olympiad Vice President Jennifer Quisi. 

“Teachers and administrators did communicate with us. We appreciate their concern for the competitors’ safety, and we appreciate all the work they did to ensure this competition would be feasible for us to attend,” said senior and Science Olympiad President Sonia Hasko.

It is unclear if Mr. Sangiorgi is still working with the Science Olympiad Organization in some capacity and will be kept off-site for future events as well. The Science Olympiad State and Tournament Directors have not returned The Classic’s requests for comment.

As of last Friday night, when The Classic sent inquiries to the DOE and to the Science Olympiad organization, the Science Olympiad website listed another site coordinator alongside Mr. Sangiorgi for the event (as seen in this screenshot). In late December, Mr. Sangiorgi was listed as the sole site coordinator for New York City South (as seen in this screenshot). 

As of today, however, the website no longer lists Mr. Sangiorgi as site coordinator. 

Two alumni, both of whom have graduated within the last five years, told The Classic that they have seen Mr. Sangiorgi at past in-person competitions held after he had been removed from THHS.

One alumnus said they only saw him whenever medals were given out because he announced them.

Another former student said they had a one-on-one conversation with Mr. Sangiorgi alone in a room when picking up materials. According to the student, they engaged in a brief conversation about his association with THHS and the accomplishments of the THHS Science Olympiad team. Neither alumnus alleged anything inappropriate about Mr. Sangiorgi’s interactions at previous competitions.

This year’s competitions will be the first ones held in person since before the pandemic. Last year, the regional tournament was conducted virtually. The awards ceremony was hosted on Zoom where THHS students could join remotely. Mr. Sangiorgi can be seen announcing THHS as the overall winners of the competition in a video recording of the event.

The Science Olympiad regional tournament this Saturday is set to be held at Grover Cleveland High School. 

Photo by Yash Sharma, 2015 photography editor

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