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Former student files lawsuit against East Greenbush schools

Aug 26, 2020 5:45 am
Edward McKinley is reporting for the Times Union a former student last week filed a lawsuit against the East Greenbush Central School District, alleging school officials conspired to allow a sexual predator to teach social studies at Columbia High School and that he used his position to prey on students. The suit accuses teacher Henry Kolakoski of abusing Robert Reese in 1979 and 1980 at the teacher's home, at school events and even during classes at school. In 2007, Kolakoski surrendered his teaching license following an investigation by the State Education Department into his alleged sexual abuse of Reese and other boys. That probe was prompted after Reese went to the police. Reese is alleging the district and the high school “acted in concert with each other” and “concealed the sexual abuse of children by Kolakoski in order to conceal the failure to protect children, to protect their reputation, and to prevent victims of such sexual abuse by the teacher from coming forward despite knowing that Kolakoski would continue to molest children.” East Greenbush school district spokesman Mark Adam said the district has no comment on the lawsuit; attempts to contact Kolakowski were not successful. The police chose to look into the matter in 2003, because Kolakoski was still teaching in the area. The police report states that as part of that investigation, Reese called Kolakoski on a recorded line and officers listened in. During that conversation, the teacher admitted to some of the allegations. As a result, Kolakoski received an official reprimand in 2003, but he was allowed to retire in 2007. Reese brought the case against East Greenbush under the provisions of the Child Victims Act. The lawsuit alleges the district and high school officials “knew or should have known that Kolakoski was sexually abusing Robert and other children at Columbia.” Read the full story in the Times Union.