NEW ROCHELLE, NY — On two separate occassions, Freddie Dean Smith followed women around in stores, unzipped his pants, pulled out his penis and masturbated while standing behind them. Smith was convicted of these crimes in South Carolina not long after he received a felony conviction in Virginia for endangering the life of a police officer. These convictions were just a handful of the more than a dozen convictions of Smith that also include Assault, Sex/Peeping Tom, Check Fraud, Trespassing without Permission, Driving with a Suspended License (more than 1st), Larceny, Failure to Appear, Stalking, Disorderly Conduct, Driving with a Suspended License (2nd), and Obstruction of Justice
Shortly after the felony conviction, and while the two sex crime cases were pending, Smith moved to New York where he was hired as the Principal of the Post Road Elementary School in White Plains. After he was convicted on the two sex crimes in South Carolina, Smith left White Plains to become Assistant Superintendent for the City School District of New Rochelle.
As part of his hiring, Smith underwent a criminal background check to be licensed as an administrator in New York.
Tom Dunn, SED DIrector of Communications, confirmed to Talk of the Sound that Smith was fingerprinted in 2003 and that the NYSED Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability conducted a fingerprint supported criminal history background check against the full 50-state FBI criminal history database.
“Information pertaining to any criminal conviction history he may have was reviewed and ultimately cleared at that time,” said Dunn.
These convictions showed up in background checks in 2010 and 2014 so it appears the NYSED Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability wsa aware of the convictions and licensed Smith anyway.
What reason would New York State residents have to trust the government of the State of New York when a man as nefarious as Freddie Dean Smith was and continues to be licensed by the New York State Education Department. A check of the NYSED licensing web site shows that Smith still remains in “good standing” as an administrator. Despite two years of asking, no New York state official has been able to explain to Talk of the Sound how a man with Smith’s extensive criminal past was able to pass a background check or why he remains licensed by New York State today despite being formally barred from working in New York City and the State of New Jersey.
Smith, as noted above, was a former Assistant Superintendent of Schools in New Rochelle and elementary school principal in White Plains and Superintendent of Schools in Pocantico Hills. He was fired from the Pocantico Hills School District in 2010 after he was found to have plagiarized a school newsletter and, later, about one-third of his dissertation. The University of Virginia revoked his doctorate.
An investigation by Talk of the Sound revealed Smith’s extensive criminal history based on records from the City of New York Education Department and the State of New Jersey Education Department.
State officials have engaged in years of stonewalling.
“Matters concerning Mr. Smith remain under review,” said Dunn back in 2014. “Until or unless there is a final adverse action against the certificates held by Mr. Smith his certificates remain in good standing and we will not comment further.”
Talk of the Sound has repeatedly contacted local state representatives over the past year including Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, State Senator George Latimer, State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblyman Steve Otis. They have failed to get any answer or explanation from the New York State Education Department.
Talk of the Sound has now escalated the matter, reaching out to the press office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
When Talk of the Sound first broke the story of Smith’s criminal past, the New York State Education Department ducked questions for almost two weeks before Communications Director Thomas Dunn claim that an investigation was underway, claiming there would be an investigation into not just Smith but how Smith was approved in the first place.
“We have initiated an audit of the records pertaining to this individual and intend a thorough investigation in accordance with the Regulations of the Commissioner 8NYCRR 83,” said Dunn back in February 2014. “We will not comment further on matters under investigation.” 8NYCRR 83 refers to a Determination of Good Moral Character investigation which can result in a SED license being revoked.
None of this appears to have happened.