Northeast High staffer transferred after sex accusation

The Northeast High School staff member accused of having sex with a student continues to work for the city’s public school district, although he no longer has official contact with students.

Mark Preston Williams has been transferred from Northeast and into an undisclosed administrative job, according to Fernando Gallard, a School District of Philadelphia spokesman. The district is seeking to suspend Williams without pay pending the outcome of his criminal case, but suspension proceedings were pending last Thursday, Gallard said.

Further details about Williams’ personnel file, including his tenure with the school district, were not available, Gallard said.

The district spokesman described Williams as a “staff member in the dean of students office” at Northeast. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office had erroneously identified Williams as the dean in a March 12 news release in which the prosecutor announced Williams’ arrest.

Williams, 56, is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old female Northeast student and is charged with institutional sexual assault of a student, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child and interference with the custody of a child.

The alleged sexual activity did not occur on school grounds, Gallard said. A source with knowledge of the case told the Northeast Times that the charges stem from an incident or incidents that occurred at the defendant’s West Chester-area home. The victim’s parent learned of the alleged sexual activity and reported it to Philadelphia police, the source said.

Court documents state that the alleged crimes occurred on Jan. 13.

Philadelphia police informed the school district of the allegations in February, Gallard said. The district immediately transferred Williams into a non-school setting. According to the district spokesman, Williams’ duties at Northeast involved administering discipline. He would have had direct contact with students.

“My understanding is he would handle specific complaints dealing with students’ behavior,” Gallard said.

Williams’ name does not appear on the staff directory of Northeast High’s Web site. The school principal did not respond to a telephone message requesting comment.

The school distributed letters to students and staff informing them of “what occurred” and offering them counseling services, Gallard said. The school district is unaware of any other complaints against Williams.

The school district has launched its own investigation into the case, but the district will await the outcome of the criminal proceedings against Williams before acting further on its own findings, Gallard said. Williams posted 10 percent of $50,000 bail and was freed from police custody on March 13. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on April 2. ••