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Boro teacher arrested in Playboy rap

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A South Ozone Park social studies teacher was arrested last Thursday for showing his sixth-grade students Playboy magazine and making lewd comments, police said.

    Barry Witz, 55, of Huntington, L.I., was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, according to police. Authorities said he had been showing the magazines to his class at JHS 226 on Rockaway Boulevard for about two months.

    “I wouldn’t expect him to do anything like that,” said an eighth-grade student. “I wouldn’t expect any teacher to do anything like that.”

    Students said Witz was taken away by police shortly before dismissal Thursday afternoon.

    He was reassigned to the District 27 office pending the outcome of an investigation, said Board of Education Spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

    Witz was issued a desk appearance and was due in court June 26, said a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

City Councilman Allan Jennings (D-Jamaica) said 106th Precinct police told him they received a complaint from the parents of two girls who alleged Witz showed them the magazine in class and made improper comments during a discussion on its contents.

    “I’m shocked and dismayed. I can’t believe that a teacher would do something like that,” Jennings said. “One place where parents expect kids to be safe is in school. If they’re not safe in school where are they safe?”

Jennings said the complaint at the Virgil Grissom School should serve as a warning sign for the Board of Education to intensify efforts to make sure irresponsible teachers do not end up in classrooms.

    After dismissal Friday afternoon, students milling around Rockaway Boulevard said they were surprised to learn Witz had been accused of showing Playboy magazines to his class.

    A seventh grader said Witz was a frequent substitute in his social studies class during the 2000-2001 school year.

    “He’s a nice teacher. Last year he used to let us watch “The Mummy” when we were studying ancient Egypt,” the seventh grader said. “He recorded stuff from The History Channel. I’m surprised that it’s him.”

    Other students expressed anger.

    “This is school,” said another seventh grader. “They shouldn’t be showing Playboy.”

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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