Henry Kolakoski, a former teacher at Columbia High School until 2007, is accused of sexually abusing a student when he was the victim’s social studies teacher in the 1980’s. In the lawsuit against East Greenbush Central School District, officials are accused of allegedly knowing about the abuse and still allowed a sexual predator to teach at the school.
The former student, Robert Reese, accuses Kolakoski of abusing him in school, at school events and at the teacher’s home in 1979 and 1980.
Kolakoski surrendered his teaching license in 2007 amid an investigation by the State Education Department into his alleged sexual abuse of Reese and several other boys.
The district and the high school allegedly “acted in concert with each other” and “concealed the sexual abuse of children by Kolakoski in order to conceal their own bad acts in failing to protect children from him, to protect their reputation, and to prevent victims of such sexual abuse by him from coming forward despite knowing that Kolakoski would continue to molest children.” according to the lawsuit.
Any attempts to contact Kolakowski by the media were unsuccessful.
Reese had reported Kolakoski to the police in 2003 after he had memories of the abuse that had occurred when he was a child. Reese’s own children were students at Columbia High School at that time when Kolakoski was still a teacher.
Reese said in an interview “I knew there was no opportunity for me to get justice,”.
Because Kolakoski was still a teacher in the area, police decided to investigate. As part of that investigation, Reese called Kolakoski on a recorded line — while the officers listened in — and Kolakoski admitted to some of the allegations.
In 2003, Terrance Brewer, the superintendent of the district at that time, gave Kolakoski an official reprimand. The reprimand said that the New York State Police and independent investigators for the district found “credible basis for the conclusion” that Kolakoski had provided alcohol to students and had engaged in “inappropriate physical contact with students which could be deemed in violation of School District policy and State Law.”
When Kolakoski’s “retired” in 2007, he wrote to Brewer: “I want to retire before I hear any one say, ‘It’s time for him to go.'”
Brewer and Timothy Lange, an assistant superintendent, both wrote Kolakoski hand-signed thank-you notes with well wishes.
“You have served our students, community and fellow staff members with distinction,” Brewer wrote. “On behalf of the Board of Education and our school community, we extend our best wishes on your retirement.”