Special school in New York ‘dirty’ run by quack chiropractor: lawsuit

A New York City school for special needs children is a shithole where roaches climb on children, rats roam the hallways and “good old boy” staff engage in sexual harassment, claims a lawsuit filed this week by a former staff member .

The International Institute for the Brain (iBRAIN) building on East 91st Street was “extremely filthy” and riddled with bugs — all while receiving up to $350,000 in taxpayer money per student, ex-worker Katelyn Newman claims before New York Supreme Court complaint filed Jan. 16.

“Plumbing leaks were plugged with Dorito bags or whatever else was readily available,” the complaint said when Newman first started working at the facility.

“The carcass of a rat was on view for a long time before it was finally removed, and the ceiling over the entrance through which the children entered the building fell down.”

iBRAIN operates from an address on East 91st Street.
iBRAIN operates from an address on East 91st Street.
Google Maps

Though the school reportedly received $1 million in PPP funds in 2020 and $800,000 in 2021, it was also struggling with a “severe shortage of equipment,” and students were reportedly being forced to walk on dirty mats to sleep.

According to the lawsuit, first reported by The Daily Beast, a college student was hospitalized after an incompetent staff member botched a medical procedure, blocking his circulation and causing his legs to become swollen.

The disturbing picture Newman paints of the faltering institution is a far cry from its publicity.

Founded in 2018, iBRAIN is committed to providing a “highly specialized education opportunity” for students aged five to 21 with severe brain injuries or neurological disorders.

Newman accuses Dr.  Victor Pedro, peddling fake IDs.
Newman accuses Dr. Victor Pedro, peddling fake IDs.

Newman worked as a public relations officer at the school from August 2022. She resigned in mid-December after what she describes as an ongoing campaign against gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

The most worrying allegations in the lawsuit are against Dr. Victor Pedro, who she alleges forged his Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist credentials and made “sexually suggestive” remarks to female employees.

She says Pedro, the school’s chief innovation officer (CIO), pushed for an unsubstantiated treatment called Cortical Integrated Therapy (CIT) — which Newman says used children as “human guinea pigs.”

Although the lawsuit did not describe what CIT entails, Pedro’s website defends PEDROCIT®, which he claims is a non-invasive system that “precisely locates and identifies the injured or underperforming areas of the brain.” .

The students were reportedly left with little equipment in filthy conditions.
The students were reportedly left with little equipment in filthy conditions.
International Institute for the

The lawsuit states that the US Department of Health and Human Services denied Pedro’s application for Medicare to cover CIT in 2017.

Two years later, The Providence Journal reported that Rhode Island had withdrawn $1 million from the state budget for treatment.

Newman alleges that students were endangered by staff incompetence.
Newman alleges that students were endangered by staff incompetence.
International Institute for the

Students have also allegedly been subjected to fake treatments by Rodney Robinson, who has now been arrested for a years-long scam in which he posed as “Dr. Alim Shariff,” a Harvard-trained behavioral psychologist, said in the suit.

Newman also cites the inappropriate behavior of Patrick Donohue, iBRAIN’s founder and chairman, who she says fostered a “good old boy” brotherhood among employees.

Neither Pedro, school officials, nor Donohue responded to the Post’s request for comment. Robinson was not immediately available for comment.

The school was founded in 2018.
The school was founded in 2018.
International Institute for the

The stressful environment at iBRAIN, Newman claims, was exacerbated by Arthur Mielnik, associate director of strategic planning, and Suzanne Wallach, director of strategic planning.

In particular, Wallach’s alleged constant after-hours harassment left Newman “depressed, stressed and exhausted” and “forced her to seek professional therapeutic help.”

Both Mielnik and Wallach are named in the lawsuit and did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.

After the first attempt to resign in November 2022, Newman formally tendered her resignation on December 13.

At that point, the lawsuit states, iBRAIN’s administrators sent letters to her parents, fiancée, and several professional contacts. The letter accused Newman of “violating the New York State Child Abuse and Neglect statutes” and disseminating “false, inaccurate and unsubstantiated information” about the school.

“To the best of their knowledge and belief, the defendants’ clear intent in sending these false written allegations against them to their family members and business contacts was to destroy their personal and professional reputations,” the complaint reads.

Speaking to The Daily Beast this week, Newman described her experience as “psychological torture.” She didn’t immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment.

The lawsuit includes a jury trial, with damages to be determined in court. When Newman’s attorney, Kenneth F. McCallion, reached him by phone, he declined to comment on the case.

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