THE BRONX - The dean of discipline at Cardinal Hayes High School was taken into police custody last week following allegations of sexual misconduct, officials say.

According to police, James West, 55, unzipped a student?s pants and forcibly fondled him Jan. 14. West has since been removed from the all-boys school.

Students at the school say the accusations against West are false. They insist their dean of discipline is a good man who would never harm a child.

?I don't believe the accusations,? says senior Jonathan Frazier. ?He didn't do it. He's a good man.?

Students add that they support West and hope he will eventually return to the school.

?We're behind you,? Frazier says. ?The class of '09 is behind you all the way.?

The district attorney?s office says West was arraigned Jan. 16. He is due back in court in February.