Q: Is SCI a law enforcement agency?
A: Yes. SCI is a law enforcement oversight agency, independent from the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”). SCI investigates crime, corruption, and misconduct within the DOE or those conducting business with the DOE. SCI’s investigations may lead to arrests, criminal prosecutions, or other administrative proceedings.
Q: Does SCI report to the DOE or the Chancellor?
A: SCI does not report to the DOE or the Chancellor. However, at the conclusion of any investigation that results in a written report or statement of findings, SCI sends their report – with any related recommendations – to the DOE Chancellor for appropriate action.
Q: What sort of misconduct does SCI investigate?
A: Some examples of allegations investigated by SCI include misappropriation of funds, fraud, sexual misconduct or abuse of students by adults, conflicts of interest, and any other criminal or unethical conduct that hinders the public schools from functioning effectively.
Q: How does SCI differ from the DOE’s Office of Special Investigations (“OSI”)?
A: SCI is an independent agency and not a part of the DOE. As such, SCI does not act at the direction of the DOE Chancellor. OSI is the DOE’s internal investigative unit. OSI completes investigations at the behest of the DOE and reports directly to the Chancellor or his designee. OSI does not conduct investigations that may lead to criminal prosecution, as does SCI. As appropriate, SCI may refer to OSI or other DOE offices allegations involving unethical conduct or misconduct for investigation, disciplinary or other appropriate action. (See the DOE’s website for information regarding OSI and DOE’s disciplinary processes).
Q: Does SCI investigate only DOE employees?
A: No. Our job is to keep the schools free of crime and corruption at every level of the system. Therefore, SCI investigates anyone who works on school sites or in administrative offices, as well as anyone doing business with the New York City School District. SCI’s investigations of employees and others affiliated with the DOE may result in criminal prosecution or recommendations for internal administrative proceedings.
Q: Who can report wrongdoing to SCI?
A: SCI receives complaints from numerous sources, including: DOE personnel and administrators, outside contractors or vendors, other government agencies and officers, and students, parents, or caregivers. SCI may also self-initiate investigations based on its insight and oversight responsibilities.
Q: What types of recommendations does SCI make to the DOE?
A: Based on investigative findings, SCI may make personnel recommendations, Policy and Procedure Recommendations (“PPRs”) to improve DOE policies, or recommendations for the DOE to recover misappropriated, stolen, or mishandled funds. However, it is the DOE’s responsibility to assess and evaluate its personnel and with whom it conducts business. (See the DOE’s website regarding its internal disciplinary processes).
Q: How long do investigations take?
A: A quick resolution to investigations is one of our primary concerns. Some investigations are completed within weeks of the initial complaint. However, other investigations require time-consuming tasks including gathering evidence, extensive document review, and interviewing witnesses. Therefore, large-scale, more complex investigations can take months to complete.
Q: How can I help?
A: If you suspect corruption or crime affecting the school system, your local school, or your school district, please use our on-line form under “Report Corruption” or call us at (212) 510-1500.
Q: Will I be protected against retaliation if I report wrongdoing?
A: Absolutely. The Department of Education’s “whistleblower protection” resolution guarantees job protection for any employee who reports corruption or wrongdoing to SCI.