Queens Principal Accused Of Sexually Harassing Employee
A Queens principal who was once honored by Mayor de Blasio sexually harassed a cancer-stricken male underling, then got him booted when he blew the whistle on her, the man says.
Kenneth Ojeda, now assistant principal at Long Island City’s HS for American Studies, says he was targeted for years by his former boss Ana Zambrano-Burakov, the longtime principal of the HS for Arts and Business in Corona.
“Me being a male, no one took it seriously,” Ojeda said.
“She was constantly asking me for hugs and kisses. She started dressing more provocatively, wearing really tight outfits. It was really bizarre. She was my boss.”
Ojeda, who was an assistant principal at Arts and Business at the time, alleged that Zambrano-Burakov, a married mother of three, began harassing him in 2012.
“She would talk about her private parts and tell me she doesn’t love her husband, that she only likes him as a friend,” he claimed. “She would say she loves Puerto Rican men.”
When Zambrano-Burakov got wind that he was working on a formal complaint against her, she freaked out, he said.
“I went to my colleague’s office who I had been confiding in. Ms. Zambrano saw me go, and she followed me upstairs. She took her shoes off and crept down the hall because the office was in the middle of the hall and stood outside eavesdropping,” he said.
Ojeda said he filed his complaint with the Department of Education in 2015.
A source with knowledge of the situation said the department dragged its feet for years on the probe.
Last month, the department’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management ruled that the complaint was substantiated, according to Ojeda and the source.
A DOE source told The Post that as punishment, Zambrano-Burakov was “mandated to attend OEO corrective action training and a disciplinary conference was held.”
In 2016, Zambrano-Burakov’s school was visited by de Blasio and then-Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and hailed as an example of a school that had turned around its graduation rates.
Zambrano-Burakov declined to comment.
“I’m so sorry I cannot be any help,” the principal told The Post last week.
DOE spokesman Doug Cohen said in a statement, “There’s no place for sexual harassment of any kind at the DOE,” and added that the department was working to curb delays in its investigation process.
“We’ve hired new investigators to ensure investigations are conducted more quickly and to reduce delays like this one,’’ he said.
Cohen added that “Mr. Ojeda was assigned to a different school due to unrelated misconduct.”
The DOE source said Ojeda was reassigned in April 2015 after a probe by the Special Commissioner of Investigation found that he had “falsely claimed to be receiving medical treatment while instead traveling outside the country.”
The source said the department tried to fire Ojeda but that he ultimately was just fined $1,000.
Ojeda said that he has hairy-cell leukemia, a rare slow-growing blood cancer.
Ojeda, who said he was home sick at least one day last week with a 102-degree fever, asserted that the allegation was a retaliation for his accusing Zambrano-Burakov of harassment.
“I was out of the country, but there was no wrongdoing,” he said.