A top charter school’s founder has been fired after he was accused of sexual misconduct with a student.
Michael Feinberg was ousted Thursday from KIPP, the chain of charter schools he helped to found.
An investigation found credible a claim that he had sexually abused a student nearly two decades ago, according to The New York Times.
Feinberg, was accused last spring of sexually abusing a minor female student in Houston in the late 1990s, a source told the Times.
The investigation found her claim credible after interviewing the student and her mother who both gave the same sequence of events.
Feinberg, who co-founded KIPP, one of the country’s largest charter school chains, has denied the accusation.
During the investigation, authorities reportedly found that Feinberg had sexually harassed two KIPP employees.
One case resulted in a financial settlement in 2004.
A letter that was sent Thursday afternoon to teachers, administrators and students, announcing Feinberg’s dismissal, said that ‘Feinberg’s actions were incompatible with the leadership qualities that are central to our mission’.
Feinberg was notified of his dismissal at a meeting in Houston.
According to the Times, his lawyer, Christopher L. Tritico, said his client had never been told of the precise allegations against him, and had not been given a chance to defend himself.
‘The investigation was conducted without even the most rudimentary form of due process,’ Tritico.
The claim regarding the minor student, who is now in her 30s, had not been previously reported to KIPP or other authorities.
After an internal investigation last fall, KIPP Houston and the KIPP Foundation hired WilmerHale, a law firm that specializes in sexual misconduct allegations.
KIPP, also known as Knowledge is Power Program, started in 1994 in Texas. The programs began with fifth-grade students and achieved extraordinary results with poor and minority pupils. Pictured is one of the school in Houston
Feinberg joins numerous individuals who have been ousted from their positions over sexual harassment claims since sexual abuse allegations surfaced against Harvey Weinstein in October 2017.
David Levin and Feinberg co-founded KIPP after they came together during their Teach for America program in the early 1990s.
KIPP, also known as Knowledge is Power Program, started in 1994 in Texas. The programs began with fifth-grade students and achieved extraordinary results with poor and minority pupils.
Close to 95 per cent of the students who attend KIPP schools are African-American or Latino.
Currently, the school chain services nearly 90,000 students in 209 schools in 20 states.
In his early years, Feinberg was a teacher and administrator in Houston where he taught fifth grade, but in his current role, he focused on fund-raising, lobbying, political advocacy and college partnerships.
In 2016, Feinberg received $231,885 in compensation and benefits while working for KIPP’s Houston schools, and $220,241 for work at the parent foundation in San Francisco, according to the Times.