Poughkeepsie School District Agrees to Bury Details on Employee Who Met with Prostitute on District Grounds

By Michael Klazema on 7/21/2015
When the interim assistant superintendent of finance with the Poughkeepsie City School District was accused of meeting with a prostitute on school grounds, it seemed like his career in the education sphere would be over. After all, while the incident wouldn't show up on a criminal background check, it is the kind of thing that would go on file with the Poughkeepsie City School District and potentially be relayed to future employers.

However, according to a report from the Poughkeepsie Journal, the employee in question has instead been allowed to resign from his position "in good standing." That means the Poughkeepsie City School District will provide him with "a positive reference letter" that will help him to land another similar position in the future. In fact, the district has agreed to completely expunge reports of the prostitute incident from his personnel file and to "not release any records about the incident unless required to by law."

District records show that a woman emailed the superintendent of the Poughkeepsie City School District claiming to be a prostitute who the interim assistant superintendent of finance had hired on a number of occasions. Once, the district employee had the prostitute meet him at his school district office and requested that she "service him" there. She refused, and ultimately notified the district of the incident.

One resident interviewed by the Poughkeepsie Journal stated a belief that the district should not allowe the finance superintendent to "slither into another job" after what he did, and such a stance would likely be fairly common among parents. While the district employee is not accused of any sexual abuse of students or sexual harassment of co-workers, he did allegedly try to use an office paid for by taxpayer dollars as his own personal hookup pad. That's not the kind of allegation that makes parents feel comfortable about their school district, especially since the woman he was trying to "hook up" with was a prostitute.

The characteristics of this case also bear an uncomfortable resemblance to a trend in the educational world called "passing the trash." In the past, some school districts have allowed teachers, administrators, or other employees accused of sexual abuse of students to resign quietly and in good standing. In these situations, the school districts avoid a scandal and the teacher or employee in question gets a good recommendation and the chance to find a new job without the sex abuse allegations following them. In other words, school districts "pass the trash" of potentially dangerous employees on to other schools, where those individuals are often able to continue to hurt and abuse kids. Legislation is currently pending that would punish schools for such action.

Again, this particular case doesn't involve allegations of sexual abuse. However, the willingness of the Poughkeepsie City School District to bury the allegations and let their employee "slither off" to a different job at a different district or in a different city is a bit worrisome. Shouldn't future employers be able to get a straight answer about why this individual left his old job? And should the Poughkeepsie City School District be willing to give him a positive recommendation if they haven't disproved the serious allegations against him?

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