Brick school officials say the district’s former interim director of special services – whose background includes a conviction on felony drug charges in New York – checked “no” to a question on his job application with the district that asks whether he had ever been convicted of a crime.
Andrew Morgan’s history of drug-related charges were apparently known by the state Department of Education, but the state did not notify the Brick school district when a background check was performed before he was hired, school board president Sharon Cantillo said at a meeting Thursday night.
Morgan was arrested alongside former Superintendent Walter Uszenski earlier this month on charges stemming from an allegation that the two conspired to provide $40,000 in taxpayer-funded daycare to Uszenski’s grandson to which he was not entitled. After his arrest May 7, Morgan’s criminal history of drug dealing came to light, including an allegation that he once agreed to fly to Thailand in order to buy heroin for undercover agents posing as drug dealers. In another incident, Morgan was arrested after another New York City school district employee sold him cocaine in a car parked on Ocean Boulevard in Brooklyn, packaged in an official Board of Education envelope.
When he was recommended for the job in Brick by Uszenski, Morgan underwent the standard background check and fingerprinting that all employees must submit to, Cantillo said. The investigative arm of the state Department of Education runs the information through both the FBI and New Jersey State Police databases and reports back to the district. In the case of Morgan, the background check came back clean even though the state agency apparently knew of his past.
“They have the criminal record of this gentleman in their database, and for some reason, there was a pardon of some sort,” said Cantillo, who said a state investigator would not reveal to her the exact nature of the mechanism by which Morgan was allowed to work in New Jersey schools.
Apparently, said Cantillo, such pardons are not currently allowed, but a decision in the 1980s meant Morgan was grandfathered in and cleared to work in public schools.
“They told me it would never be done today,” said Cantillo.
No one from the state Department of Education was available for comment since the details of the case were revealed by Cantillo early Friday morning during a six hour-long school board meeting that began Thursday night.
Morgan had left the district by the time he was arrested earlier this month. His wife, Lorraine Morgan, was still serving as the district’s Academic Officer.
Lorraine Morgan’s days working in the district are now numbered, according to officials. Her contract, which expires June 30, has not been renewed.
“She was not recommended for a renewal,” said interim Superintendent Richard Caldes.