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Educator Loses Job at City School After Email About Butchering Moose

By James Fanelli | January 24, 2013 7:23am

CANARSIE — His moose is cooked.

A Columbia University-trained educator who assisted English teachers at a city high school got the ax last year after sending a colleague a wacky email about butchering a moose in Vermont, investigators say.

John DeWind, 64, volunteered at the Academy for Conservation and the Environment (ACE) from January to June, working as an advisor to the student literary journal and newspaper. But the gig went belly-up when he offended a female teacher with the meaty missive, according to a report by the office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the Department of Education.

The June 21 email invited the woman and her boyfriend to his family's home in Vermont during summer break and then imagined them arriving for a visit with a box of cookies as a gift, the report says.

"When you turn left ... John appears on the porch," DeWind wrote, according to investigators. "Little to [sic] you know he has recently killed a moose and plans to give you five pounds of moose meat."

The bizarre scenario allegedly continued with DeWind thinking the teacher's boyfriend is a butcher and the two tackling the carcass together.

"[John] envisages the two men bonding over the carving of the rest of the corpse," the email says, according to the report. "How he got the impression your boyfriend was a butcher is not clear, perhaps in a dream, but what is clear is that the encounter is going to be horribly embarrassing for everyone, and things are made no better when John turns on your sister and asks, 'Well surely you know how to carve up an animal.'"

DeWind ends the email by saying how he enjoyed working with the teacher during the semester and signs off "with affection," the report says.

After the teacher reported the email to officials, they decided to terminate the school's relationship with DeWind "because [she] would feel uncomfortable" working with him, the report says. They let DeWind go in an email stating the school didn't have the funds to pay him $5,000 for his work in the fall semester, investigators said.

The electronic pink slip allegedly sparked a series of threatening emails from DeWind to school officials and led them to file a complaint with the NYPD, investigators added.

Even after he was canned, DeWind continued to show up to volunteer at an ACE-sponsored community garden in Canarsie, the report says. DeWind allegedly had a locksmith break the locks at the garden to gain entry, and on a July 12 visit received a trespass summons from the NYPD.

Over the course of the probe, investigators found that when DeWind worked at Brooklyn International High School in 2008, a teacher complained that he called students "losers," the report says. The school dismissed him over the accusations, and DeWind responded by sending "abusive and menacing" emails to the teacher, according to investigators. 

DeWind was also let go from volunteering at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn in 2008 after he helped two teens write a work of fiction for their literary magazine about a teacher sexually abusing students, investigators say.

DeWind told DNAinfo.com New York he didn't mean to upset the ACE teacher with his moose email.

"I may be guilty of a poor sense of humor," he said, "but humor was what I intended."

DeWind added that he wanted the moose scene to illustrate to the teacher an example of an assignment he gives students to write about a situation in which everything goes wrong.

In a written response to investigators, DeWind said his dismissal over the email was a "coverup." He believes the true motive behind his firing stems from an attempt by the school to close the community garden and bury the fact that it had been sending students there without any liability insurance. 

DeWind said that he still works at the garden, which is now run by local residents known collectively as the Sunny Triangle Flatlands Community Gardens. The trespass summons from the NYPD was also thrown out, he noted.

The city Department of Education has since banned DeWind and his consulting firm, Comprehensive English Preparation Project, from contract work.

ACE's principal, Eugene Mazzola, could not be reached for comment.