After a months-long investigation, a top official for the New York City Department of Education — which oversees the largest school district in the country — was arrested at an airport in Wisconsin on Sunday for allegedly attempting to meet with an underage boy for sex.
“Department of Education deputy chief of staff David Hay was arrested at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee on Sunday on a charge of using a computer ‘to facilitate a child sex crime,’ according to cops in Neenah, Wisconsin,” the New York Post reports. According to police sources, Hay intended to meet with a minor for sex.
While details about the allegations have not been released, Wisconsin defines the charge brought against Hay, “use of a computer to facilitate a sex crime,” as using “a computerized communication system to communicate with an individual who the actor believes or has reason to believe has not attained the age of 16 years with intent to have sexual contact or sexual intercourse with the individual.”
Sources say Hay was under investigation for several months leading up to his arrest. The joint investigation was headed up by the Neenah Police Department in cooperation with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department.
In a press statement issued Monday, DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot announced that Hay has been fired as a result of the “incredibly disturbing and absolutely unacceptable” allegations and that the case has been referred to the Special Commissioner of Investigation.
“These allegations are incredibly disturbing and absolutely unacceptable,” Barbot said in the statement. “We took immediate action removing Mr. Hay from payroll and are terminating him. We referred this to the Special Commissioner of Investigation and we will fully comply with any investigation.”
While Hay “did not regularly interact with students” in his role with the department, The New York Times reports, he was previously a school principal in two different Wisconsin school districts.
The Department of Education revealed Tuesday that Hay’s background check was never finalized after he joined the department in 2016, though he was fingerprinted twice, in 2016 and 2018, the Times notes.
“It is not clear whether a completed background investigation would have revealed information relevant to the current charge against Mr. Hay,” said Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett.
“The risks presented by this example are exactly why I took immediate steps to assess and then reorganize the Background Investigation Unit,” said Garnett.
Garnett told the Times that when she took control of the department in January 2019, she “inherited a massive backlog of 6,000 unfinished background checks,” some of which dated as far back as 2015.
For his role as deputy chief of staff under Chancellor Richard Carranza, to which he was elevated in 2018, Hay was paid $168,000 annually, the Post notes.
“Mr. Hay has served under both of Mr. de Blasio’s schools chancellors: Mr. Carranza, who was appointed in the spring of 2018, and former chancellor Carmen Fariña,” the Times reports.
Hay will likely remain in custody until his primary hearing with a judge on Thursday.