Convicted felon hired as vice principal of Chester High School

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Convicted felon hired as vice principal of Chester High School. Wendy Saltzman reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on May 9, 2017. (WPVI)

Freddie Dean Smith has a lengthy record, but that hasn't stopped him from bouncing around from state to state applying for jobs working with kids.

A quick Google search of his name easily turns up reports of his sordid past. So, we are asking how he slipped through the cracks and into a Delaware County high school.

Article after article written by New York journalist Robert Cox documents a decade of investigations into the elusive Freddie Dean Smith.

"This is a guy who keeps managing to keep slipping through the cracks, and to me is a dangerous, sick individual who does not belong anywhere near children," Cox said.

Cox says Smith was denied teachers certifications in Maryland and Virginia, but somehow this convicted felon landed in Chester High School.

"This is somebody with a criminal record. I can't imagine that any parent would want someone like that as an administrator at their child's school," said Cox.

A background check and records obtained by Action News show in 2002 he was found guilty of eluding police, which is a felony. And in 2001 and 2003 in two separate incidents in South Carolina he was charged with sex crimes for approaching women in two different stores, and exposing himself and touching himself in a lewd fashion.

We went to Chester High School looking for Smith and answers. Superintendent Dr. Juan Baughn directed us to a written statement they provided, which says in part: "Mr. Smith was only with the school district for one day as per diem assistant principal. He took part in training sessions, during which he had no unsupervised contact with students."

VIDEO: Watch Wendy's entire interview with Chester Schools Superintendent Dr. Juan Baughn
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Watch the full interview with Chester Upland School District Superintendent Dr. Juan Baughn.



We told the superintendent how some people say Smith is unfit to be around kids.

"He is not around our kids. He is not around our kids. He is not here," Baughn said.

Sources tell Action News that Smith was hired for the last six weeks of class at Chester High School using an emergency certification to fill a void after the principal left and a vice principal was promoted.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education could not tell us if Smith has a valid Pennsylvania teaching certification, and the Department of Human Services would not tell us if any background checks were run as required by law, citing privacy concerns.

The superintendent said the school district did a background check themselves. Smith worked there on May 2nd, last week for a single day, until his criminal past was revealed.

And while we were not able to track down Freddie Dean Smith, Cox says that is no surprise. He's been trying for a decade, and he wonders if and when Smith will show up somewhere else.

"Freddie Dean Smith is a very elusive figure who understands how to game the system and avoid public scrutiny from the media," Cox said.

Cox tells us that Smith is still licensed in the state of New York, and he has been able to get jobs using that certification in other states that have reciprocal agreements with New York.

Full statement from Chester Upland School District:

It is our standard procedure to conduct criminal background checks on all new hires before they begin employment with the school district. The check performed on Freddie Dean Smith did not reveal any misconduct related to sexual assault.

Mr. Smith was only with the school district for one day as per diem assistant principal. He took part in training sessions during which he had no unsupervised contact with students.

He is no longer with the district. As always, the safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority.


For more news and updates to her investigations, be sure to follow Wendy Saltzman on Facebook.

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