New York State Administrator with Long Rap Sheet Offered Job as White Plains Principal Prior to Completion of Criminal Background Check

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FredSmith.jpgAccording to records obtained from the White Plains City School District under the New York State Freedom of Information Law, Freddie Dean Smith was hired prior to the completion of a fingerprint-based criminal background check by the New York State Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability.

Smith completed a BOCES Certified Employment Application on March 19, 2002 while a PhD. student at the University of Virginia.

Smith indicated that he had previously worked for the Charlottesville City Public Schools in Virginia and the Prince Georges County Public School in Maryland.

Smith applied for an administrative position with the White Plains City School District on March 26, 2003.

On April 11, 2003, Smith was extended a conditional offer to be Principal of the Post Road School in White Plains, NY.

The condition of the offer was that Smith satisfactorily complete an investigative background check by New York State and the New York State certification process.

On April 22, 2003, Superintendent Timothy Connors recommended Smith to the White Plains Board of Education which approved Smith's hiring.

On April 23, 2003, Smith signed a letter accepting his appointment to the professional staff of the White Plains Public Schools as Principal of the Post Road School.

In the letter, Smith certified that he had a Doctorate Degree (since revoked) and that understood he was required to meet the certification requirements of the New York State Education Department.

Smith began as the Principal at Post Road School on May 20, 2003.

On April 11, 2005, Smith submitted his resignation, effective June 30, 2005, as Principal of the Post Road School to Superintendent Connors.

Smith had accepted a position as Assistant Superintendent for the City School District of New Rochelle.

Neither the White Plains School District or the New York State Education Department has provided records demonstrating whether OSPRA was or was not aware of Smith's extensive criminal record or whether that information was provided to the school districts which hired Smith between 2003 and 2009 (White Plains, New Rochelle and Pocantico Hills).

Smith is currently employed as Assistant Principal at Leake & Watts, a private school in Yonkers.

News12 recently obtained a statement from Leake & Watts that they were not aware of Smith's criminal history but that he had been cleared through "the normal channels".

UPDATE: Michele Schoenfeld, District Clerk and Records Access Officer for the White Plains City School District tells Talk of the Sound that she was informed by the Human Resources Office that Mr. Smith received the appropriate administrative certification and was cleared for employment through the fingerprinting background check by the New York State Education Department.

She said the District does not have the certification record or fingerprinting clearance record.

"Such records are among those that are periodically purged by the Human Resources Office," said Schoenfeld. "They are not required to be maintained for more than 6 years after termination of employment."

The White Plains City School District did provide all other records related to his employment including his job application forms, his offer letter, his acceptance letter, his resignation letter and the two administrative contracts he worked under while employed by the district from 2003 to 2005. All of those records were also more than 6 years old but all of those records were kept, just not the one set of records pertaining to my investigation of Smith.

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