Teacher with troubled past cycled through three schools

When Carl Hudson Jr. walked off his $60,000 job at DeKalb’s Tucker High School Nov. 26, he persisted in a pattern set at his last two Atlanta-area school jobs.

According to former coworkers and personnel file documents, Hudson, 39, abruptly left previous jobs at Atlanta Public Schools’ Frederick Dougless High School and at KIPP Atlanta Collegiate High School, an Atlanta charter school.

Hudson was the latest in a series of hires where Superintendent Steve Green admitted his Human Resources staff were failing to connect with references and perform basic internet searches. The department got a new leader in April, a sign Green took seriously the concerns. But several hires since have continued to raise red flags.

According to Hudson’s Atlanta Public Schools personnel file, released by the district through an Open Records Act request, he began working as a math teacher at Frederick Douglass High School in 2016, at an annual salary of about $45,000.

Little more than a year later in 2017, he left his job on a Thursday and submitted his resignation via email the following Friday afternoon.

When he was hired by DeKalb County School District to teach math at Tucker High School this year, he did not discuss the nearly nine-month employment gap since he finished at Atlanta Public Schools, though the district’s application asks for explanations for recent gaps. On his resume, Hudson indicated he worked for Atlanta Public Schools in 2018.

“The DeKalb County School District performed the standard background checks and employment history reviews for Mr. Hudson as required by its procedures,” district officials said in a statement, adding that the standard background check includes “local and national database background checks, review of internet search findings, verification of a person’s job history for the past 10 years, dialogue with at least one reference who directly supervised the candidate.”

Before he came to Atlanta, Hudson had been arrested in 2013 for meth possession while he was a principal in New York. The information was easily found by a Google search. He never mentioned Flushing High School — the school he was leading at the time of his arrest — on his resume, simply referring to “NYC DOE,” or New York City Department of Education. He pleaded in the case to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct and received a conditional discharge, meaning the whole incident would get wiped from his record if he avoided other legal run-ins over the following year.

According to the Code of Ethics for Educators, from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, unethical conduct includes the commission or conviction of a felony, including a situation where the charge is disposed through diversion or similar programs.

The DeKalb district has made changes to its hiring processes and the department that oversees hiring since Bernice Gregory began leading its human resources department in April. She said recently that the district joined the National Association of Teacher Education and Certification, which has a database giving the district access to convictions, arrests and charges against a potential candidate. Her staff is set to begin training this week to use that system. She said they also recently signed up for access to the Child Protective Services Information System, which essentially is a child abuse registry for the state of Georgia and would tell district officials whether applicants a child abuse complaint against them.

But Hudson’s hiring came this summer amid those process changes, which Gregory said include having a second person — sometimes herself — back-check potential hires.

District officials admitted not being aware of his arrest before he was hired. They responded to the issues with Hudson’s hiring by saying his meth arrest would not eliminate him from consideration, and that the district was confident in its hiring processes.

They did not respond to questions about knowing about how Hudson had left previous Atlanta jobs.