Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Students Meet with Con Man at HHS- District Officials: "We admit we were wrong"

According to numerous published reports by local newspapers and New York City television stations, a man was allowed to enter Hoboken High School, meet with students, and scammed them of hundreds of dollars worth of their time and labor. The man gained access to the students with administrators consent and wielding a false promise of a job for students which included handing out flyers for a reported $10 an hour. The story made regional news in the tri-state area as it aired on WABC-TV on May 27th with a follow-up story on June 7th. Most disturbing was that the man met with these children in a fast food restaurant and in a warehouse in Hoboken. As you read the story you will notice that the students' intuition was that something was "not right" but they placed their faith and safety on the belief that the gentleman was previously vetted by the leaders of the school and district. Evidently, this vetting did not take place.

In situations like this, it is very possible that the kids were more emotionally impacted by this event than many might expect. It is possible there might be some post tramuatic stress over the incident. It is advisable to have students meet with guidance counsellors, licensed professionals and social workers immediately to properly evaluate the situation. Hopefully this was done. In addition, it is not clear why district administrators did not follow standard and state approved protocols for unsolicited strangers seeking access to the children in our schools. But some questions remain:

2) Did the person give a list of at least 2-3 references? And, was time allocated to follow up on these references by district officials?

3) Were parents contacted that their children would be meeting and working for this gentleman? Were assurances given that this person was vetted?

4) Was there an administrator or district certified person present when the children met with this gentleman?

5) Might the same "errors in judgement" not happen if the Hoboken School District had permanent and professionally current school and district level administrators in place overseeing our schools rather than the current strategy of using retired individuals?

6) Did students involved in this incident receive any follow up counseling services from district professionals?

HOBOKEN, NJ (WABC) -- A man conned Hoboken High School students into selling fake raffle tickets.

A voicemail message the con man left for one of the students said: "Tyquan right now, come to the warehouse, thank you."

It was all part of the scam that had high school teens passing out flyers for a company that didn't exist that was fronted by a man who was ripping people off.

The man, who identified himself as Dr. Dexter Davis, was invited into the high school last week by an administrator.

While on school grounds he was allowed to meet with students, and he offered some of them jobs.

Tyquan Goodwin and Paula Vazquez were among a group of students who agreed to work for him.

"Honestly, we all had our doubts from the very first day but we didn't know how to come out and say it," said student, Paula Valazquez.

The students took to the streets though, putting their doubts aside, and working long stretches to hand out raffle tickets for a bogus $500 prize.

They met with the con man at a warehouse and a McDonald's.

The students even gave him the $180 they'd earned working 8 hour days.

They sensed that something didn't add up, so they Googled his name.

What they found confirmed what they suspected, but didn't want to believe.

A Dr. Dexter Davis had been accused of being a con man last year in Connecticut.

They believe it's the same guy.

When Eyewitness News contacted school officials, they apologized to the parents and the students, and called what happened "unfortunate".

The superintendent told Eyewitness News: "That's our error and we admit to that. We admit we were wrong. An error in judgment was made by a professional involved and we are still investigating how this happened."

(Copyright ©2010 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

See story reported by The Hoboken Journal entitled "Hoboken High School Students Schooled by Con Man".