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Background check for NYC Education Dept. official charged with child sex crime was never completed

2020-01-16

City investigators never finished a background check for a top education official who’s now charged with a child sex crime, officials said Tuesday.

The Department of Investigations is mired in a backlog of thousands of background checks — including that of David Hay, the deputy chief of staff for schools Chancellor Richard Carranza who was busted Sunday in Wisconsin for allegedly using a computer to contact a minor to have sex.

“Mr. Hay was part of the inherited set of approximately 6,000 backlogged background files,” said DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett. “Although it is not clear whether a completed background investigation would have revealed information relevant to the current charge against Mr. Hay, the risks presented by this example are exactly why I took immediate steps to assess and then reorganize the Background Investigation Unit.”

The Education Department conducted two of its own standard background checks on Hay in 2016 and 2018, a spokesperson said, running fingerprints through national criminal records and conducting a background questionnaire.

But the investigations department is supposed to do a more thorough check for high-ranking employees. Investigators look into tax compliance, work and educational history and arrest records, Garnett said.

But the city’s background check process has been stalled for years by a shortage of investigators and a boom in the number of municipal employees.


Garnett reorganized the background check division to create one team in charge of handling new checks and another team for working through backlogged probes.

The Daily News reported last week that at last count, the city had roughly the same number of incomplete background checks as it did two years ago.

“We are continuously evaluating the process to see if there are additional improvements that can be made,” Garnett said, “and will assess the Hay situation to see if it illuminates any broadly-applicable issues.”