NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- In his application for the position of Superintendent of the Pocantico Hills Central School District, Freddie Dean Smith claimed he had never been convicted of a crime despite an extensive criminal record with a dozen convictions for crimes ranging from assault to larceny to Peeping Tom.
In response to the the question "Have you even been convicted of a criminal offense other than a minor traffic violation?", Smith responded "No".
The question was part of an online job application, obtained under a Freedom of Information Law request by Talk of the Sound. The date of the application is March 6, 2008.
Smith is currently an Assistant Principal at Leake & Watts, a private school in Yonkers and the subject of an investigation by the New York State Department of Education based on Talk of the Sound's previous reporting on Smith's criminal record. After working as an educator in Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia, he moved to New York in 2003. He began his career in New York as a Principal in White Plains from 2003 to 2005, then became Assistant Superintendent in New Rochelle from 2005 to 2008 before taking on the position of Superintendent in Pocantico Hills. He was "unexpectedly resigned" in 2009 after it was discovered he plagiarized material for a school newsletter. Weeks later, the University of Virginia revoked his doctorate due to plagiarism
In 2010, Smith was firmly rejected for positions by the State of New Jersey and the New York City Board of Education before landing a consulting position with the City School District of Troy, NY. He was fired from that position after it was determined he lied during his job interview when he claimed he had been exonerated of plagiarism charges by the University of Virginia when he had not.
Smith was then hired by Leake & Watts. Smith did not disclose his criminal history to Leake & Watts prior to his hiring in 2010, according to a News 12 report.
White Plains School District, where Smith first worked in New York, could not produce records showing that Smith had cleared a state background check. The Clerk in White Plains stated that they could not be certain whether Smith cleared a background check because the record confirming that was no longer on file. She stated that the District did not keep records for six years after employment. She did, however, produce 40 other pages of records including job applications, employment offers, a farewell letter and two administrative contracts.
White Plain Superintendent Tim Connors, who hired Smith in 2003, has so far declined to respond to a series of questions about Smith:
Did NYSED/OSPRA or anyone else provide White Plains School District with information on the criminal history of Freddie Dean Smith at the time he was hired or at any point after?
Were you aware of Smith’s criminal history? Are you aware of it now?
Did White Plains hire Smith as Principal in 2003 with full or partial knowledge of Smith’s criminal history?
In the event that you did not know then but know now, would you have hired Smith knowing his criminal history? In particular, that he was a convicted felon then on probation for endangering a police officer?
The City School District of New Rochelle issued a statement they would not comment on a former employee. A similar Freedom of Information request for Smith's employment records in New Rochelle has been made.
The New York State Education Department ducked questions for weeks before answering a few questions and then announcing they would not answer further questions due to the investigation into Smith and an audit of state records to determine how Smith got his administrative license in New York despite an extensive criminal history which included being on probation for a felony conviction, endangering a police officer, at the time he applied for his state administrative license.
Dr. Valencia Douglas, the current Superintendent of Pocantico Hills, did not respond to requests for comment on Smith.