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Teacher revocation falls through the cracks for 17 years

New Jersey state officials have drawn fire over their failure to revoke the license of a teacher who was convicted of sexually assaulting a student 17 years ago.

A former band teacher named Philip Birnbaum was first convicted in 1997 of aggravated sexual assault of a 15-year-old student. But it was not until December 12, 2014, a full 17 years after his conviction and 23 years after the first alleged incident, that the State Board of Examiners of New Jersey’s education department revoked his teacher of music and supervisor certificates.

First charged in 1991, Birnbaum had three trials. Two were mistrials; he was then convicted and lost an appeal.

According to state officials, they depend on local school districts to notify them of convictions like Birnbaum’s. In this case, the Board of Examiners only received notice when the Division of Pensions brought it to their attention.

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