A high-ranking official in New York City’s Department of Education was arrested on Sunday in Wisconsin and accused of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, according to police officials there.
David A. Hay, the deputy chief of staff to schools chancellor Richard A. Carranza, was taken into custody at an airport in Milwaukee following an ongoing undercover investigation, said Officer Stuart Zuehls, a spokesman for the Neenah, Wis., police department.
Authorities in Wisconsin notified New York City officials hours after the arrest.
The Department of Education said it fired Mr. Hay after the arrest.
“These allegations are incredibly disturbing and absolutely unacceptable,” Miranda Barbot, a spokeswoman for the department, said in a statement. “We took immediate action removing Mr. Hay from payroll and are terminating him. We referred this to the Special Commissioner of Investigation and we will fully comply with any investigation.”
Mr. Hay, 39, did not regularly interact with students as part of his job, which was based at department headquarters in downtown Manhattan. Before moving to New York, however, Mr. Hay was a school principal in two Wisconsin school districts.
Officer Zuehls declined to offer more information about the charges or why Mr. Hay was arrested at an airport.
Under Wisconsin state law, someone who is accused of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime is defined as a person who “uses a computerized communication system to communicate with an individual who the actor believes or has reason to believe has not attained the age of 16 years with intent to have sexual contact or sexual intercourse with the individual.”
It is not yet clear when the investigation into Mr. Hay was launched, or whether Mr. Hay has obtained a lawyer.
The investigation was conducted by the Neenah police department, with help from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, though it is not yet clear what precise role the Milwaukee police played.
The investigation is ongoing, and there is no information yet about when Mr. Hay will be arraigned.
Mr. Hay grew up in the small town of Antigo, Wis., about three hours from Milwaukee, according to a 2017 interview.
Mr. Hay has served under both of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s schools chancellors: Mr. Carranza, who was appointed in the spring of 2018, and former chancellor Carmen Fariña.
He rose quickly in the Department of Education after joining in May 2016, first serving as a special assistant to Ms. Fariña while he was still a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, then helping oversee major programs — including the Renewal School initiative to help struggling schools — before being promoted to a deputy chief of staff last October, according to his page on LinkedIn.
He maintains an active Twitter account where he promotes Department of Education events and positive news stories about the department.
He spoke about his work at the Department of Education in a 2017 news item for the Harvard Graduate School of Education School’s website.
“To jump to the largest school system on the planet is incredible,” he said. “It’s humbling, challenging, and really promising.”