KIPP co-founder sues school for defamation after sexual assault allegations

By Bill Barajas - Reporter

HOUSTON - KIPP Houston Public Schools is at the center of a new lawsuit filed by its co-founder, Mike Feinberg, who was terminated in 2018.

Feinberg was dismissed after a former student came forward and made allegations of sexual abuse in the late 1990s.

The charter school, which is known for serving the educationally underserved community, hired a third-party firm to investigate the allegations, but did not conclusively confirm any wrongdoing.

The firm did provide evidence of sexual harassment involving Feinberg and an adult former KIPP student, employed in 2004. The allegation led to a financial settlement at the time.

"The truth is that I'm an educator in good standing and I did nothing but great work for the children and families of Houston and Texas. And across the country," Feinberg said.

What happened Thursday

During a press conference, Feinberg and his attorney, Mano DeAyala, said they filed a lawsuit to try to clear Feinberg’s name.

"A defamation lawsuit for the statements they made against Mike back then,” DeAyala said.

Feinberg is seeking monetary relief of over $1 million.

Feinberg said he tried talking to KIPP officials before he filed the lawsuit, but they would not cooperate.

"I've spent months talking with KIPP in hopes that they would do the right thing and help correct the record and clear my name, but they've refused," Feinberg said.

Feinberg’s message to the KIPP community: “My dispute is not with the KIPP students, the alumni, the educators and the families.”

KIPP's response:

Sehba Ali, CEO of KIPP Texas, and Richard Barth, CEO of the KIPP Foundation, said: “This is a baseless and frivolous lawsuit. Mr. Feinberg’s employment was terminated last year after thorough investigations uncovered credible instances of misconduct incompatible with KIPP’s values. We regret Mr. Feinberg is choosing to put the women who came forward to share painful experiences, the witnesses who supported them, and the entire KIPP community through further distress.”

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