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Sunday, August 27, 2023

The NYC Department of Education Ignores Ethical Rules, Gives High-Paying Jobs to Danika and Shawn Rux

Danika and Shawn Rux

Have you ever heard anyone at the New York City Department of Education tell someone "Do as I say not as I do"?

Perhaps your parent told you that after they did something that they told you not to do.

The NYC DOE has structured its rules of compliance with the laws of New York State so that there is one set of rules for Superintendents, Deputy Chancellors, executive directors, legal, and relatives and/or friends of any of these "officials", and another set for everyone else.

Anyone who is recommended by a person at the Superintendent level or above, or favored "friends with benefits" below the Superintendent level, does not get the mandated vetting by Human Resources (Capital Management, HR, whatever you want to call this office). See the case of David Hay

This hiring process is always kept secret from the public.

At no time do any of the privileged prospective employees submit their name or issue to the Conflict of Interest Board ("COIB"). COIB ethics rules do not apply to them:

"The main purpose of ethics laws lies not in punishing wrongdoing, but in preventing it, not in catching people, but in teaching them.

The Conflicts of Interest Board is the independent New York City agency tasked with administering, enforcing and interpreting Chapter 68 of the New York City Charter, the City's Conflicts of Interest Law, and Section 12-110 of the Administrative Code, the City's Annual Disclosure Law. We hope you'll enjoy learning more about this agency, and government ethics in general, by exploring the tabs on the left and the other offerings on our site.

Through a combination of engaging training, confidential advice, and vigorous enforcement, the Board seeks to prevent ethics questions from becoming ethics problems for public servants. Ultimately, however, integrity in City government rests upon all of us, public servant and private citizen alike. Only when each of us plays his or her part will the public trust inherent in public service be ensured."

I am familiar with this disregard for rules of ethics. In 2013 a principal was served 3020-a charges, and her CSA Attorney was Charity Guerra. During the hearings, Ms. Guerra suddenly quit, in order to take the job of Deputy General Counsel of the NYC Department of Education. I was shown the email sent from Ms. Guerra to this charged principal. In this email, Charity Guerra informed her that she realized her conflict of interest, yet wished her former client the best of luck. No COIB Complaint was filed and no fine was given.

In 2019, however, Ms. Guerra tried to go around COIB, but COIB filed an enforcement action against her, COIB Case No. 2016-932, resulting in a penalty fine of $3,500.

"I acknowledge that, by having the Executive Deputy Counsel for Risk Management and Litigation, who was my subordinate, perform a personal task for me related to the Lawsuit, I used my City position to obtain a private advantage in violation of City Charter§ 2604(b)(3), which states:

No public servant shall use or attempt to use his or her position as a public servant to obtain any financial gain, contract, license, privilege or other private or personal advantage, direct or indirect, for the public servant or any person or firm associated with the public servant."

We can all see that the rules apply to the NYC DOE VIPs only if or when they get caught.

Thanks to reporter Susan Edelman, Danika and Shawn Rux  "got caught". See article in the NY POST below.

NYC DOE hires husband of deputy chancellor in secret promotion deal

By Susan Edelman, NY POST, 

The husband of schools Chancellor David Banks’ newly appointed $265,000-a-year deputy chancellor of leadership scored a high-paying job in the city Department of Education as part of a secret deal to ensure his wife’s promotion, insiders told The Post.

Shawn Rux will be the executive director of the DOE's Office of School Design and Charter Partnerships.

Shawn Rux, the husband of Danika Rux, landed a gig as executive director of the DOE’s Office of School Design and Charter Partnerships starting on September 5, replacing the retiring Daniella Phillips, whose salary was $195,000 last year, sources said.

“It’s the ‘friends and family’ program,” a DOE staffer said sarcastically.

Danika Rux was a DOE superintendent when her husband founded an educational consulting firm, Ruxway Inc., in March 2020. The firm has since collected $253,450 in DOE payments, records show.

Under city Conflicts of Interest Board rules, any public servant whose spouse owns a company that does business with the city must obtain an order granting permission to retain a financial interest in it.

“The board has not issued an order to Danica Rux,” said Carolyn Lisa Miller, the COIB’s executive director.

Miller said she cannot comment on any alleged misconduct by a city employee “until such time as the board makes a final finding of a violation of the conflicts of interest law.”

Chancellor Banks appointed Danika Rux — whom he previously named a “chief of school support” making $222,972 — his deputy chancellor of leadership on Aug. 10. She replaced Desmond Blackburn, a Florida import who quit after a year. The job involves supervising the DOE’s 45 superintendents.

Before her latest promotion, officials reportedly set a condition: “The deal was: for her to be deputy chancellor, (Shawn Rux) had to give up his business,” said a source close to the arrangement.

In exchange, Shawn Rux was promised a job in the DOE, the source claimed. “It’s the foul stench of nepotism.” 

The office that Shawn Rux will lead oversees the closing or merging of schools, a rare occurrence in recent years. It also helps schools co-located with charters.

“This is an extremely low-profile gig,” a staffer said.

DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer said Friday, “We are still in the process of hiring for this role.”

But insiders said Shawn Rux met with the office staff that morning and introduced himself as their new boss. Styer had no response.

Shawn Rux, the principal of MS 53 in Far Rockaway from 2011 to 2016, was featured in news stories for creating “Rux Bux,” vouchers for school supplies or lunches that students earned for good behavior. He also raffled tickets for prizes, like an Xbox, to get kids to come to school.

He was promoted to deputy superintendent in 2017 and left the DOE in 2021 to run for a City Council seat, unsuccessfully.

He then founded Ruxway Inc. The company offered keynote speaking, leadership coaching, “school turnaround” guidance, and “culture/climate support.” 

It’s not the only case in which the school’s chancellor has favored friends, insiders said.

Banks named Tracey Collins — a DOE administrator and Mayor Adams’ longtime girlfriend – as a “senior advisor to the deputy chancellor of school leadership,” then Blackburn. She started that job in July 2022 with a 23% raise to $221,597.

Banks and Danika Rux would not answer questions. Shawn Rux did not return messages seeking comment.