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KIPP Co-Founder Michael Feinberg Used School Computer to Access Porn

December 13, 2019

Michael Feinberg is the co-founder of the “no excuses” Knoweldge Is Power Program (KIPP) charter school chain.  He and co-founder Dave Levin trace their ed-reformer-entrepreneureal roots to Teach for America (TFA). As of 2019, the KIPP chain consists of 242 schools.

Levin and Feinberg co-founded KIPP in 1994; 24 years later, on February 22, 2018, Feinberg was fired following an investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct.

Feinberg denied the allegations, and in response, on August 22, 2018, he filed a defamation lawsuit seeking damages, including “lost earning capacity” and “exemplary and punitive damages.”

On November 17, 2019, KIPP responded to Feinberg’s defamation suit in this Motion to Dismiss. The 43-page Motion provides detailed background incidents leading up to Feinberg’s firing as well as KIPP’s public response.

Among those details are two shockers that severely undercut Feinberg’s denials and assertion of defamation:

  1. Feinberg used his school laptop to access pornography.
  2. He excused his behavior because he said he did not access porn at school.

From the Motion:

This is a defamation lawsuit in which Plaintiff Michael Feinberg alleges that the KIPP Defendants, acting through their respective Boards of Directors (the “KIPP Boards”), made false and defamatory statements relating to the circumstances surrounding his termination and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him. The KIPP Defendants terminated Plaintiff Feinberg’s employment based on the results of an independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm, WilmerHale, which reported that it had made the following assessments:

1) the allegation against Feinberg of sexual abuse by a then-minor student was credible;
2) at least one of the accusations against Feinberg of sexual harassment of an eighteen-year-old employee and recent KIPP graduate was credible; and
3) Feinberg accessed pornography multiple times on his KIPP-issued computer.

As to the first incident, the investigators reported to the KIPP Boards that they found both Feinberg’s denials and the victim’s accusation to be credible, but on balance they found the victim to be more credible. As to the second incident, the investigators reported that they did not find Feinberg’s denials to be credible. And as to the third incident, Feinberg admitted that he had accessed the pornography in question but claimed it had only occurred during business travel.

Later in the Motion, KIPP notes that using a school computer to access porn “was a direct violation of KIPP policy” and that KIPP did not include in its public statement Feinberg’s accessing porn on his school computer among the reasons for his termination.

Feinberg used his school computer to access pornography. That in itself is worthy of firing. Feinberg does not deny this. Instead, and astoundingly, this founder of “no excuses” readily excuses himself for viewing pornography on his KIPP computer because (he alleges) he engaged in viewing porn, not just during travel (bad enough), but “during business travel”– presumably travel associated with KIPP.

Four months after his firing from KIPP related to sexual misconduct, Feinberg was again in the news, this time for supposedly starting a new ed-reform org, the charter school funding nonprofit, the Texas School Venture Fund, where Feinberg serves as president.

Even that is shady: According to the IRS, the Texas School Venture Fund (EIN 81-3674046) has existed since 2016, doing business as the Catholic School Renaissance Institute, which was actually founded by former KIPP Houston president, Duncan McCrann. (For more, see my August 2019 post.)

Feinberg and McCrann are connected via KIPP Houston. It looks like McCrann gave his Catholic School Renaissance Institute nonprofit to Feinberg so that Feinberg could quickly reinvent himself in the face of allegations of sexual misconduct.

And now, the public knows that those allegations, include using a school computer to access porn and that Feinberg admitted– and excused– his behavior.

Certainly a taint for the Catholic School Renaissance Institute Texas School Venture Fund.

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Michael Feinberg

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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3 Comments
  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    And now, the public knows that those allegations, include using a school computer to access porn and that Feinberg admitted– and excused– his behavior.
    You have done your part in alerting the public.
    Thank you.

  2. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Oh my

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