BROOKLINE — Faculty and parents at the prestigious Park School are reeling following the arrest of a longtime Latin teacher on multiple charges of indecent assault and battery of a child under the age of 14 and a separate, second arrest of an employee on statutory rape charges.
Gregory Grote, a 65-year-old Roslindale resident who has taught at the private school for 26 years, was charged Monday with an assault that allegedly occurred last December. The victim was described by Brookline police as a former student at The Park School, a 125-year-old institution that serves prekindergarten through ninth grade.
“We know that this news is shocking and distressing,” Michael E. Robinson, the head of the 560-student school, wrote to parents this week. He urged parents and alumni to come forward with any further information.
Grote’s arrest followed the arraignment last Wednesday of a 29-year-old teacher’s assistant who was charged with the aggravated statutory rape of a public school student.
Carlos Morales, who has helped teach fifth grade at The Park School, has been held pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Wednesday at Brookline District Court.
Gregory Grote has been charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 and one count of assault and battery.
Morales, who once worked as a paraprofessional for the Brookline public schools, has been placed on an indefinite unpaid leave of absence by The Park School.
When told of Grote’s arrest in a phone interview, a former colleague at The Park School gasped. “What?” said Peter Amershadian, a former head of the modern language department who has known Grote for years. “Oh, my God. I can’t talk right now.”
The Park School, located on 34 acres near Jamaica Pond, has many links to the powerful and influential and sends many of its students to elite prep schools.
Following the back-to-back arrests, Robinson has sought to reassure parents that the school conducts comprehensive background checks.
“The safety of the children entrusted to us is always our first priority,” he wrote to parents.
“The school performs criminal and sex-offender background checks on all new hires and, as a matter of routine, performs background checks on faculty and staff who are in our employ.”
Grote, who also led students on trips abroad and tutored during the summer, was arrested Saturday and arraigned Monday, when he was released after posting $1,000 cash bail, authorities said.
He has been charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 and one count of assault and battery.
The teacher has been ordered by authorities not to contact the victim or the student’s family, to stay away from children under 16, and to stay away from The Park School. He is scheduled to return to Brookline District Court on March 5 for a pretrial conference.
Grote’s last background check occurred in the spring and did not show any criminal conduct, Robinson said in a statement e-mailed to the Globe Tuesday.
“We encourage anyone in our community with any knowledge or concern to contact us and the appropriate authorities,” Robinson added. He also said that the school would reach out to alumni, but several graduates said Tuesday that they had not heard of Grote’s arrest.
“If there is anything that you have observed during Mr. Grote’s time here at Park that concerns you, please notify me immediately,” Robinson wrote parents. The school psychologist will respond to student and family needs, he added.
After classes ended Tuesday, nearly all parents who had arrived to pick up their children declined to comment on the charges. However, one parent, who asked not to be identified, said the school has been thoughtful in its response.
Grote did not answer his door in Roslindale Tuesday, and efforts to reach his lawyer were unsuccessful.
Robinson’s predecessor as head of school, Jerrold I. Katz, said in a statement to the Globe that he was “deeply saddened” by the allegations against Grote.
“Throughout my 20 years at Park School, Mr. Grote was highly regarded and respected as a teacher,” said Katz, who served as head of school from 1993 until earlier this year.
“My thoughts certainly are with the alleged victim and with the entire Park School community during this very difficult time.”
Grote had become a fixture at the school, chaperoning students on trips to foreign destinations such as Hadrian’s Wall, a Roman barrier built between what are now England and Scotland, and to the ruins in Pompeii, Italy.
In a reference to the Hadrian’s Wall trip in 1990, a Park School publication lauded the venture as a huge success that “quickly became institutionalized.”
Before joining The Park School, Grote had been on the faculty of the King School in Stamford, Conn., where he taught Latin and history and coached sports.