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ArchNY: No ‘operational control’ at school where sex assault alleged

The Archdiocese of New York said Thursday that it does not exercise operational control over a Harlem Catholic school at which a girl was allegedly raped by a lay teacher, because the school is run by a non-profit that manages urban schools in the archdiocese. 

Holy Rosary School in East Harlem, Manhattan. public domain.

“Mount Carmel – Holy Rosary is run by the Partnership for Inner-City Education (dba Partnership Schools), and has not been under the operational control of the Archdiocese of New York for over a decade,” archdiocesan spokesman Joe Zwilling told The Pillar May 30.

Zwilling explained the status of Mount Carmel-Holy Rosary School in East Harlem, New York, after the May 17 arrest of Daniel Haines, a former teacher at the school, who is accused of committing serial sexual assault against a 13-year-old.

The alleged sexual abuse, which includes one alleged count of rape, is reported to have taken place at the school itself. 

Several acts of sexual assault took place between April 2022 and April 2023, when the victim was in seventh and eighth grade, the criminal complaint charges. 

Haines, 39, allegedly took cell phone videos of sexual encounters with the girl, and exchanged sexual photos and videos with her by email. The teacher left Mount Carmel-Holy Rosary after the 2022-2023 school year, and became a middle school teacher in September 2023 at Abraham Joshua Heschel School, a Jewish day school in Manhattan.  

It is not clear how a teacher might have had the opportunity to serially sexually assault a middle school student at Mount Carmel - Holy Rosary. 

The school is one of six Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York which in 2013 were placed under a management agreement with the non-profit Partnership for Inner-City Education, which agreed to assume financial responsibility for capital costs and operating expenses of those schools, while managing budgeting and day-to-day operations. 

The agreement was made as several dioceses across the country sought to partner with independent organizations for the management of urban Catholic schools. 

Those organizations were modeled after charter management organizations, nonprofit and for-profit entities formed to manage networks of charter schools, many of which said they could raise academic and behavior standards through a data-driven, “no excuses” approach that would set high expectations for students and faculty. 

According to Catholic school policy experts, those organizations were attractive to major donors in some dioceses, because of their promise of institutional accountability and improved educational outcomes. 

While Zwilling emphasized in remarks to The Pillar that Mount Carmel-Holy Rosary was not under the “operational control” of the archdiocese, the archdiocese does exercise governing authority over the school.

According to an August 2013 report in the archdiocesan Catholic New York newspaper, operating agreements ensured that the archdiocese would “retain governance oversight of the schools and continue to own the buildings in which they are located, as well as supervise and implement all religious curricula and programs.”

And while the Partnership for Inner-City Education is distinct from the archdiocese, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan is a trustee of the organization. In 2022, the last year for which tax records are available, NY archdiocesan schools superintendent Michael Deegan was also a trustee, as was the diocesan vicar general and chancellor. Further, the organization listed its address as 1011 First Avenue, the site of the archdiocesan chancery.

And the partnership has its roots in a scholarship fund administered by an archdiocesan auxiliary bishop. 

The archdiocese said it could not provide copies of their operating agreements with the non-profit.  

But Zwilling told The Pillar Thursday that Catholic schools managed by the Partnership for Inner-City Education are required to observe the child protection and safe environment policies of the New York archdiocese. 

And Zwilling told The Pillar that the school is cooperating with a police investigation into Haines’ alleged sexual assault there.

Emails in recent days from Mount Carmel-Holy Rosary administrators to school parents have urged them to contact law enforcement officers while allegations against Haines are investigated.

The school also said it had made counselors available to students. 

The Partnership for Inner-City Education has not yet responded to requests for comment from The Pillar.

In 2022, the organization had some $17.4 million in revenue, but ran a budget deficit of almost $5 million. According to its annual report, the organization now manages seven Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of New York, and four in the Diocese of Cleveland.

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Editor’s note: This report was updated after publication.

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