Westchester teacher accused of sexual intercourse with student hired by Monroe-Woodbury 5 days before lawsuit

Lakeland teacher Alejandro Mendoza is accused of grooming a 16-year-old student and repeatedly having sexual intercourse with her in his office and classroom at Walter Panas High School.

Blaise Gomez

Oct 18, 2023, 8:39 PM

Updated 177 days ago

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News 12 is taking a close look tonight about how allegations of sexual misconduct by teachers is reported, after a Westchester educator accused of having sex with an underage student resigned and then was hired somewhere else.
Lakeland teacher Alejandro Mendoza is accused of grooming a 16-year-old student and repeatedly having sexual intercourse with her in his office and classroom at Walter Panas High School.
The district was notified by the now-former student's attorney of the allegations last April.
Mendoza resigned in June and was hired by the Monroe-Woodbury school district to work in their middle school in July – five days before the civil suit was filed.
The Monroe-Woodbury school district says they didn't know about the allegations even though News 12 confirmed with the state Department of Education that Lakeland administration would have been required by law to contact the state and police.
Monroe-Woodbury issued a statement saying, "When the district was made aware of the lawsuit, Mr. Mendoza was immediately removed from his position, after which he submitted his resignation."
A representative for the district wouldn't say if they reached out to Lakeland for a recommendation before Mendoza was hired. The state Department of Education also wouldn't say if Lakeland notified it or if an educator's license is flagged in any way when allegations like these are made.
The lawsuit alleges that Mendoza was allowed to continue to work with Lakeland students for the past eight years, even though the district allegedly knew about the improper behavior that began in 2015, and was allowed to work with more kids in Orange County – even though Lakeland allegedly knew why Mendoza was resigning and that the former student was planning on suing the school.
A representative for the Lakeland school district tells News1 2 that they notified the state department of education and law enforcement after the former student 's attorney, notified them of the allegations and impending lawsuit.
"The Lakeland Central School District takes all allegations of misconduct seriously. The district took swift and appropriate action as soon as we became aware of actionable allegations. Upon receiving the letter from the attorney for the former student, the district took all appropriate actions promptly and in accordance with law. The teacher was promptly removed from any student supervision, we immediately notified law enforcement, and the New York State Education Department's Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability. Any claim of inaction on the district's part is wholly without a factual basis," says Lakeland School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Gagliardi.
The Westchester County District Attorney's Office confirms to News 12 that they are investigating the allegations.
We reached out to Mendoza's attorney for comment, but have not heard back.


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