Daily News: Innovate Manhattan Charter School Hired ‘Convicted Felon’

Innovate Manhattan Charter School’s new facility on Delancey Street.

This week the Daily News has run two critical stories focused on Innovate Manhattan Charter School, which just moved into a new facility at 38 Delancey Street.  We profiled the school a couple of weeks ago.

On Monday, the News reported that Innovate Manhattan “hired a convicted heroin dealer — and put him to work with kids — without a background check that would have quickly turned up his criminal past.”  Carlos Tepia began working in the school cafeteria this past May.  At the time, the charter school was sharing space at Tweed Courthouse, where the Department of Education’s administrative offices are also located. 

More from the story:

A charter school official said that background checks were “always done,” claiming that Tapia’s had been completed by an employee no longer with the school. Head of school Gayla Thompson declined to further comment, saying that Tapia “is no longer an employee here.” She then hung up on a reporter. A source familiar with the inner workings of the school said officials were entirely in the dark about Tapia’s past until contacted by the Daily News. The school is now reviewing all personnel records, the source said. Absent the heroin arrest, Tapia’s résumé suggested that he was qualified for the charter job. Before turning to crime, he made $10 per hour as a public school teacher’s aide.

In a followup yesterday, the Daily News reported the school also employed a science teacher, Bart Ocuto, who “got busted in 2011 for asking a public school student if she ever had anal sex and for insulting other students.”    According to the News:

Charter school officials declined to discuss whether Ocuto had ever set foot in a classroom. Former head of school Peg Hoey, now president of Kunskapsskolan USA, the for-profit group that manages the school, hung up when asked about Ocuto.

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