Investigation Into Past Complaints of Former HPS Administrator Eduardo Genao - NBC Connecticut

Investigation Into Past Complaints of Former HPS Administrator Eduardo Genao

(Published Wednesday, May 4, 2016)

New accusations have surfaced against Eduardo Genao, the former Hartford school administrator who detectives said was texting inappropriate messages to a 13-year-old girl.

A former office manager and the attorney of another former school employee said they raised similar concerns about him in 2007 and they feel the school district failed them and the children.

“They just swept it under the rug. 'Let's keep it quiet because, you know, we don't want to look bad.' But this man has been allowed all these years to be in the school system with these young girls," Nancy Collier told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters when discussing her former boss.

District officials said Genao was forced to resign as school administrator last month before Hartford Police arrested him.

He is accused of sending graphic text messages to a 13-year-old girl who lives out of state, including partially nude photos of himself.

“He should have been stopped a long time ago," Collier told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.

She claimed Genao's controversial behavior began years ago, when he was principal at the Sports and Medical Sciences Academy.

“These allegations came out in 2007. It is now 2016," Collier said.

Collier said she ran the front office in 2007 and did what she thought was right after four female students approached her about Genao.

“I see how he interacted with the students and then I had some female students come to me with concerns about the way he was interacting with them. I don't know what principal, or what other person in the school would shake a young girl's hand and rub his finger in the palm of her hand,” Collier said.

She said she was concerned for the students.

“He had students in the office afterhours and I spoke on it and I even asked the young girls, 'Why would you be here when the other staff is not here?'” Collier said.

Collier eventually called the state Department of Children and Families.

“I didn't give my name, but when they came to do the investigation and we spoke, it was very clear that I was the one who called. I just told them that I was getting some complaints from students that the principal was being inappropriate with them," Collier said.

In a statement, DCF told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters they don't have authority to take action against school employees and instead share any investigation findings with school administration.

They cannot discuss specific cases, but DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt wrote in an email, "Our work in this matter included the notification of the appropriate officials."

Attorney Donald Howard II represents a woman who also worked for Genao and reported him for alleged inappropriate behavior the same year Nancy Collier did.

“My client came forward almost 10 years ago. She feels that the Board of Education totally dropped the ball," he said.

Howard reached out after his client saw our previous Troubleshooters report with another woman, a current Hartford Schools employee, spoke out about Genao’s alleged inappropriate behavior toward her.

“She was very distraught; it was opening up old wounds. It was salt on the wound, the fact that the Board of Education, the school she worked at, kind of buried these things and now a minor has been affected. She was very hurt,” Howard said.

His client wants to keep her identity confidential. They said she quit her job because of Genao and was part of the district's investigation.

“There were times that Mr. Genao contacted her via the messenger at that time, 2007, and at inappropriate times, and requesting things that she didn't feel comfortable with. Mr. Genao would only hug her when other staff members weren't in the vicinity. … He would invade her personal space,” Howard said.

The district gave the Troubleshooters a copy of a written reprimand to Genao in January 2008, saying his conduct was "inappropriate and unacceptable" including electronic social interactions with students and advised he "cease and desist" from any social exchanges with students.

While there was no finding of inappropriate physical conduct, Genao wrote a note, promising to avoid any unnecessary such contact with students and staff.

The letter also threatened termination if the behavior in question did not stop.

“My client just wants an apology from the Board of Education. She brought it to their attention and nothing was done,” Howard said.

For weeks, the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters have tried to get the school district to hand over additional records concerning Genao.

“Get the Board of Education’s file on him, which would possibly at least substantiate my client’s claims,” Howard said.

Back then, Dr. Steven Adamowski was Hartford Schools Superintendent and the Troubleshooters reached out to him in various ways over the last week, even stopping at his new office in Norwalk, where he is the current superintendent and he responded by email late Tuesday afternoon to say he recalls a single allegation concerning Genao under his administration, and that it was investigated promptly.

“My recollection is that DCF did not make a finding, however we found Mr. Genao’s alleged lack of professional judgment sufficient to warrant placing a legally appropriate reprimand/warning in his personnel file,” Dr. Adamowski wrote. “I am not aware of any other complaints or allegations concerning his conduct made by anyone during the period I was superintendent.”

Genao’s attorney, Hugh Keefe, responded to our inquiries for a comment, indicating he wasn’t surprised that prior complaints didn’t go anywhere and said in part, “Shame on you for repeating baseless generalities.”

Genao has not yet entered a plea to the count of risk of injury to a minor and will return to court later this month.

On Tuesday, Central Office sent the Troubleshooters an email indicating they’ve withheld seven documents based on Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, regulations protecting students’ identity.

A district spokesman added that no form of harassment will be tolerated in the Hartford Public Schools and they take these allegations seriously.

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