Former NYC education official charged with sex crimes lied about prior job trouble, probe finds

David Hay, the former deputy chief of staff to Chancellor Richard Carranza who is now facing child enticement and child pornography charges, lied on official city questionnaires about being pushed out of a previous job, a city investigation revealed Monday.

As a result of the city probe into Hay’s hiring, Special Commissioner of Investigation Anastasia Coleman is recommending five policy changes to how the education department vets job candidates. Those recommendations include requiring the department’s Office of Personnel Investigations to contact every candidate’s previous employer from at least the five years before their application, regardless of how they answer questionnaires about their past work. 

The investigation found that Hay never acknowledged on official city paperwork that he was asked to resign from a previous job in Wisconsin over concerns about his principal’s license and improper spending — an omission that can lead to criminal charges, the report said. SCI has sent their findings to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.

Coleman’s investigation did not expose any evidence of inappropriate sexual conduct in his previous jobs, her report said. In a news release, Coleman said her office’s investigation revealed “areas in need of improvement” when it comes to the education department’s vetting process for “high-level titles and sensitive positions.” 

Hay held central office positions in New York City and did not teach.

Hay, 39, was charged last month in Wisconsin with attempting to lure a teenage boy — who was actually an undercover police officer — to a hotel and with possessing child pornography. He has pleaded not guilty. Hay was fired Dec. 30, the day after his arrest in Wisconsin, according to the SCI investigation. 

Questions soon arose over how Hay was screened before he was hired. He joined New York City’s education department as a “confidential strategy planner” in 2016 and was later promoted. He was required to go through two background checks — one with the education department, and one with the city’s Department of Investigation, or the DOI. The education department review, which includes a fingerprint check, was completed. But the vetting process with the DOI remains incomplete because the agency says it is facing a massive backlog of cases to review.

Coleman’s office launched an investigation into how Hay was vetted, interviewing two Wisconsin superintendents for whom Hay had worked. Both said they had not heard of Hay demonstrating any “sexually inappropriate conduct.” However, investigators discovered Hay was forced to resign from one Wisconsin school district in 2011 because he had failed to update his principal’s license and was found to have improperly used a school credit card, in part for personal expenses such as lunch and gas, Coleman’s report said. 

Investigators found that Hay was facing a hearing in 2011 over being fired as principal of a school in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine district following the allegations about his license and improper spending, confirming a January report in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel newspaper. According to documents and SCI interviews, Hay submitted his resignation before the hearing and reached an agreement with district leaders that says the school system asked for his resignation. The agreement also bars the district from sharing any information with future employers except for his salary and dates of employment.

Years later, as part of his 2016 background check in New York City, Hay was required to answer questions about his past employment, including an online questionnaire with the education department. When he was promoted a year later, he filled out another questionnaire with the Department of Investigation and a second online questionnaire for education officials. Investigators found that he had made “more than a dozen false statements” by answering “no” to questions designed to catch red flags about work history, such as, “Have you ever been asked to resign from employment?” Hay also answered “no” to similar questions on surveys tied to teaching licenses in Wisconsin, the report said.

Katherine Rodi, the education department’s executive director of employee relations, told investigators that Hay should have answered “yes” to at least one of the questions about his past employment. 

Coleman’s report noted that the city’s education department never contacted the Kettle Moraine district, but because of his agreement with district leaders, they wouldn’t have been permitted to reveal that information anyway. And since Hay’s employment with Kettle Moraine was more than five years before he applied for a job in New York City, city officials would not have contacted the district unless he answered the questionnaires truthfully or if they got a tip from “another source,” Coleman wrote. 

Hay went on to work at Tomah Area School District, another Wisconsin district, where an official did contact Kettle Moraine but said she received “limited” information and was told Hay did nothing “illegal or immoral” in his time there. 

“Mr. Hay passed a criminal background check, was immediately fired when he was arrested, and SCI found no wrongdoing on behalf of the City,” Miranda Barbot, a New York City education department spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. “We followed all protocols and procedures and will adopt SCI’s recommendations to ensure our hiring processes are as thorough as possible.”