DAVID HAY: Withheld info about previous firing.

The former Deputy Chief of Staff to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, who was arrested in late December in Wisconsin for allegedly attempting to solicit a teenager for sex, lied to city investigators about being forced to step down from a previous job, according to a Feb. 24 report by the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District.

The former Department of Education executive, David Hay, was arrested Dec. 29 at a Milwaukee airport after he invited an undercover cop pretending to be a 14-year-old boy to meet at a hotel for sex. The DOE fired Mr. Hay the day following his arrest. Police also discovered sexually explicit photos of a boy under the age of 18, who was a student at Tomah High School, where Mr. Hay had been Principal from 2011 to 2014.

Check Slowed by Backlog

The city Department of Investigation has come under fire because a background check for Mr. Hay was never completed. Although the DOE fingerprinted the executive, DOI offers a more-through vetting process, probing job-candidates’ finances, work histories and educational background. DOI screens employees who earn $100,000 or more, and/or are in a managerial title, or at the request of the hiring agency. Mr. Hay met that standard when he was promoted to the position of Administrative Education Officer in May 2017.

Although the DOI began probing his tax records, it never completed its investigation of Mr. Hay because of its large backlog of cases, which peaked at 6,479 in July 2019. That number has fallen by about 20 percent, to 5,122 as of Feb. 21, according to the agency.

In 2011, Mr. Hay resigned from the high school where he had been the Principal in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine School District after being slapped with administrative charges for failing to obtain the state’s required Principal’s license and misuse of a school credit card for personal expenses, according to SCI’s report.

Concealed Past Trouble

He began working for the city in 2016 as a Confidential Strategy Planner to then-Chancellor Carmen Farina. Despite his forced resignation five years earlier, in June 2016 Mr. Hay signed a DOE personnel document in which he falsely answered questions probing whether he had ever resigned from a job while disciplinary action was pending against him and if he was ever barred or disqualified from a city, state or Federal job, according to the SCI, which investigates claims of corruption within the public-school system.

Katherine Rodi, DOE’s Executive Director of Employee Relations, told the SCI that Mr. Hay should have affirmatively responded to at least one of the questions. He also answered “no” to similar questions on a DOI questionnaire in June 2017 after being promoted, the report stated.

DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett stated at a Feb. 24 City Council hearing that Mr. Hay committed perjury by omitting facts about his resignation. The SCI reported that it had submitted its findings to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Investigators spoke with two superintendents who supervised Mr. Hay in Wisconsin from July 2008 to June 2014, and none of the witnesses SCI interviewed had heard of him being involved in sexually inappropriate conduct.

Wouldn’t Have Turned Up

Regarding his false answers about his resignation, SCI determined that “neither the DOE nor DOI background procedures would have likely revealed Hay’s false representations.”

That’s because the DOE does not contact new-hires’ previous employers, while DOI only contacts employers the individual has worked for during the past five years. Mr. Hay last worked at the Kettle-Moraine School District six years before DOI opened its investigation.  

Even if it had been contacted, that district was bound by a nondisclosure agreement with him, which was signed after he stepped down as Principal.

“In exchange, the school district would in future confirm his title and dates of employment and salary and would provide no other derogatory information about him,” Ms. Garnett said at the Council hearing.

City Council Member Ritchie Torres, who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Investigations, worried that a gap existed in DOI’s screening process because it doesn’t ask any questions about nondisclosure agreements.

‘NDA a Red Flag’

“If we had asked Mr. Hay, ‘Did you have a nondisclosure agreement?’ and he confirmed, ‘Yes,’ then that would have been a red flag that would have disqualified him from being hired,” he said. “I have to imagine no Chancellor would appoint as Deputy Chief of Staff a person who has an NDA.”

In its report, the SCI recommended that the DOE improve its screening policies by communicating with a candidate’s previous employers during the past five years, increasing the number of questions given on personnel surveys, and that it should require candidates to sign a notarized waiver of confidentiality.

“SCI’s review of the DOE vetting process for high-level titles and sensitive positions revealed areas in need of improvement.  We look forward to DOE’s response to SCI’s recommendations,” Special Commissioner of Investigations Anastasia Coleman said in a statement.    

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