Frankford High staffer under investigation for inappropriate contact with a student

120415_frankfordhigh_1200
Frankford High School.

A FRANKFORD High School staffer is under investigation by the Philadelphia police and the school district for allegedly having a threesome with an underage student and another female, the Daily News has confirmed.

School officials stress the allegations against Howard Griffith are unfounded so far, but he's no longer allowed at the school, district spokesman Fernando Gallard said. Frankford Principal Michael Calderone removed the conflict resolution specialist on Oct. 23, one day after the student gave a written statement to school police, he said.

The case is being "actively investigated" by the Special Victims Unit, a police spokeswoman said.

Griffith now reports to a "non-school district building" and he's no longer serving as assistant to the basketball coach for the Frankford Pioneers, Gallard said.

Efforts to reach Griffith were unsuccessful.

Some parents, including the foster mother of the student allegedly involved, believe officials should have informed the school community of the incident and investigation. And one parent, who did not want to be identified, claimed Griffith was seen inside the school, on Oxford Avenue near Harrison Street in Frankford, on and off until Nov. 13.

"I don't think they are handling it well at all. I get the impression they are fighting for their employee," said Wuan Wiggins, 43, the teen's foster mother. The student's name is being withheld by the Daily News because she is a minor.

"He shouldn't be around any kids at all. It's a disgrace, you can't send your child to school," Wiggins said.

Another parent, who did not want to be identified because of her job, said "Parents need to know."

"My concern is [that] the children and the school know him as 'Pervert Howard' [and] it frightens me," she said.

Wiggins corroborated the parent's account that Griffith is known by that moniker within some circles in the school.

The district said a letter informing parents of the incident was unnecessary at this time. "The principal felt a letter was not appropriate until further investigation," Gallard said.

The district and Wiggins do agree on at least one aspect of the story: The foster mother was informed by assistant principal Stacey Precia in October that the student had sent sexually explicit photographs of herself to Griffith.

Griffith had alerted Precia to the images and that prompted the call to Wiggins.

"I was appalled. I didn't know what to say," Wiggins said. "I was more angry at the fact that this was a grown man she had been sending pictures to. I knew there had to be two sides."

Wiggins said that her foster daughter began "spilling the beans" under questioning. Griffith had allegedly deleted his texts in the thread with the student so only her texts were visible. The teen's phone had both sides of the conversation, Wiggins said.

She showed Precia the complete thread the next day.

The teen, in her statement to school police obtained by the Daily News, said she got to know Griffith in April 2015, soon after she enrolled in Frankford.

Griffith would pull the teen and another female student from class regularly. "Howard came by to get me and [friend]. Everyday around the end of the day. We just used to chill in his room and makes jokes and just talk. It was a everyday thing to where me and [other female] would link up and wait together," according to her statement.

The staffer and the teen saw each other over the summer and the pattern from the previous year continued, she said.

"We were speaking more then [sic] normal. We started texting and phone calls," she wrote.

Wiggins said Griffith began to put the girl off in early October because he learned the teen was 15, not 17. Her daughter tried to get back together with him, Wiggins said. They arranged to meet in Feasterville-Trevose, Bucks County. She brought along a female friend who is not a Frankford student.

"We met on Oct. 11 . . . me him and my friend [name redacted] at the Lincoln Motel. We engaged in intercourse and soon after that we got into an argument about my age, and I was told our conversation was soon to be over because of my age and we was on and off for days," the student wrote. "I tried to get back in contact and it didn't work. He never responded until yesterday."

On Twitter: @ReginaMedina

Online: ph.ly/DNEducation