A seventh-grade science teacher in the Mineola school district has been removed from his position after sexual misconduct allegations were made public in the form of an online petition last week.
The petition, which has gained more than 6,600 signatures as of Wednesday, alleges that Harold McLaughlin inappropriately interacted with some of his students “throughout [a] majority of his teaching years” through a lunch program he had.
The alleged program, called “bon bon,” according to the petition, featured McLaughlin gathering groups of students and offering to buy them food and drinks in exchange for students “sitting on him while he la[id] on a bed of nails.”
According to the petition, girls and boys, with a majority being girls, were asked to sit on McLaughlin’s stomach, legs, waist, or even his face to see if they could “pin him down.” If the students succeeded in pinning McLaughlin down, he would buy them food and drinks.
“I know this has been going on for many of years & many girls & boys have trauma from this,” according to the petition’s creator, whose name was given as Lee Langston. “If this was you, know anyone that was put through this or simply want to bring awareness to the situation please sign. This has been brought to attention & many girls have accused him of doing such things but nothing has happened.”
A district spokesperson said there has been no family or student record of a “Lee Langston” in the school district. Several others commented on the post, claiming to be past students of the middle school and in some cases, being directly involved with the alleged actions.
In a statement to parents last week, Superintendent Michael Nagler said officials were notified of the allegations against McLaughlin and an investigation into them has been launched.
“The district has been made aware of allegations against a teacher at Mineola Middle School,” Nagler said. “While we unfortunately cannot offer more details of the situation due to privacy constraints, we can share that the teacher was immediately removed from the classroom and a full investigation is being conducted. We want to assure you that the health and safety of our students is always our top priority. The district does not tolerate misconduct and takes all allegations of such very seriously.”
Nagler said the school district is working with the Nassau County Police Department. Efforts to reach a law enforcement representative for comment were unavailing.
Efforts to reach McLaughlin or a representative from the Mineola Teachers Association for comment were also unavailing.