STAMFORD — A former substitute teacher whose behavior made students and staff “very uncomfortable” was allowed to continue working even though his name was on a do-not-call list, according to his arrest affidavit.
Joseph Lombardo, 60, of Norwalk, who was charged this week with destroying evidence as police investigated claims of his inappropriate behavior, continued to serve as a substitute teacher for 10 days last spring after the first official complaint was made to Stamford Public Schools’ central office, according to his arrest affidavit.
According to the 10-page affidavit, Academy of Information Technology and Engineering Principal Tina Rivera sent an email on March 19 to Patricia Cunningham in the school district’s human resources department. Rivera requested for Lombardo to not be invited back to AITE “because he is making staff and students feel very uncomfortable,” the affidavit said.
However, Cunningham said she “had no idea what you’re talking about,” when asked Thursday about Lombardo. Cunningham said she did not remember Lombardo’s name and referred questions to Stephen Falcone, director of the district’s human resources department.
Falcone did not return a call for comment.
Lombardo continued to work as a substitute in the district until he was suspended on March 29 when police were notified of a complaint by a Stamford High School student. The girl, who was a junior, accused Lombardo of touching her on the lips and harassing her with repeated text messages and phone calls, according to the affidavit.
Lombardo denied the accusations and told police he erased all of his text messages to the student, the affidavit said. Lombardo told police he deleted the messages because he knew they would look for them, the affidavit said.
Lombardo also told police he taught at J.M. Wright Technical School until 1995 when was investigated for bigotry, brutality and sexual harassment that involved “improper touching,” the affidavit said.
Peter Yazbak, director of communications for the state Department of Education, said Lombardo worked at Wright Tech from 1983 to 1995.
According to his arrest affidavit, Lombardo joked to a Westhill High School student about how the district does not conduct thorough background checks for substitute teachers.
The Westhill student, who was a sophomore, said Lombardo was “clingy” and made comments about her clothing, the affidavit said.
Westhill Dean of Students Tom Pereira told police he “documented the incident and notified the people who needed to be notified,” the affidavit said.
Rivera said she requested Lombardo be placed on a do-not-call list after another AITE substitute teacher complained he was trying to get the attention of a student in her class on March 15, the affidavit said.
The teacher closed the door, but said Lombardo continued to look through the window for about a half an hour, the affidavit said.
The freshman student told the teacher she felt Lombardo was following her, the affidavit said. A few days later, Rivera said she received similar complaints about Lombardo from other students who said he made comments about their appearance and followed them, the affidavit.
Lombardo, who turned himself in on Wednesday, is free on $10,000 bond. As a condition of his release, Lombardo is prohibited from being on the grounds of any public or private schools. He is also prohibited from teaching or refereeing events.
Lombardo’s attorney Philip Russell said he does not believe his client committed a crime. Russell said his client is accused of destroying evidence for a crime he hasn’t been charged with.
Staff writer Erin Kayata contributed to this story.