A city agency never got around to doing a background check on a former senior Department of Education official who was busted Sunday for trying to arrange sex with a minor boy, officials said.
The Department of Investigation said Tuesday that fired DOE Deputy Chief of Staff David Hay was part of a massive backlog of background check cases that has plagued the office for years.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s Deputy Chief of Staff was arrested at a Milwaukee airport Sunday morning for using a computer to arrange for sex with a child.
“Mr. Hay was part of the inherited set of approximately 6,000 backlogged background files,” said DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett in a statement.
It is not clear whether a full background investigation would have tripped any alarms, Garnett said.
The DOE said that they conducted two standard background checks of Mr. Hay in 2016 and 2018 that included fingerprinting and criminal database probes. Those checks did not turn up any adverse information, DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot said.
But Garnett stressed that senior city officials are ostensibly subject to more thorough background checks that vet “issues like tax compliance, previous arrests, and the truthfulness of a candidate’s claimed work history and educational background.”
She noted that she has reorganized the DOI’s background check unit to address the backlog.
Garnett said “the risks presented by this example are exactly why I took immediate steps to assess and then reorganize the Background Investigation Unit.”
Hay, who earned $168,000 annually, was sacked after Sunday’s arrest.
He was hired by the DOE in 2016 under the then-Chancellor Carmen Farina before being promoted to Carranza’s inner circle in October 2018.
The Wisconsin native and current Brooklyn resident served as a principal in his home state before receiving his doctorate from Harvard in 2017 and joining the DOE.
According to his LinkedIn page, Hay was a key player at DOE headquarters, tasked with helping Carranza advance the DOE’s Equity and Excellence agenda.