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'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' winner arrested in Mass. months before hiring as NH substitute teacher

Union Leader Correspondent

June 12. 2018 7:35PM

WILTON — The local school superintendent says he followed all background check procedures when he hired a substitute teacher who was arrested last fall for an alleged disturbance at a Massachusetts hotel.

Worcester police arrested Vinay Manjunath, 31, of Rutland, Mass., on Oct. 26, 2017 and charged him with causing an evacuation or disruption, threatening to commit a crime and disorderly conduct for the incident at the Beechwood Hotel.

Manjunath was hired a few months later by Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District. where he has been serving as a substitute teacher at Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle High School for the past three months, filling in for science teacher William Fox.

“I have no concerns about this person’s employment with us. If I did, I would not have brought him on board,” Superintendent Bryan Lane said Tuesday of Manjunath.

According to a press release issued by the Worcester Police Department following Manjunath’s arrest, Manjunath was allegedly smoking marijuana in the hotel room, walking around the hotel nearly naked and disturbing guests by banging on doors.

“When hotel employees spoke to Mr. Manjunath and told him that he was no longer welcome at the hotel, he became irate,” according to the release. “He threatened to shoot up or blow up the hotel and trashed his room. The hotel staff and guests were placed in fear by these threats …”

Police sent in a K9 unit to conduct a sweep of the hotel rooms to ensure that the building was safe, according to the release, adding Manjunath was eventually arrested across the street from the hotel.

Lane said he was aware of the fall incident in Worcester, Mass., stressing that the school district conducted a thorough background check with the FBI and state police.

“We are required to do that,” the superintendent said. “We followed all of our procedures and there was nothing to indicate that there would be an issue.”

According to Paul Jarvey, deputy director of communications and community outreach at the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office, Manjunath’s case was resolved in Worcester Central District Court on Jan. 25. The misdemeanor charge of threatening to cause an evacuation or disruption was dismissed; the other two misdemeanor charges of threatening to commit a crime and disorderly conduct were continued without a finding, meaning the defendant admits there are sufficient facts for a guilty finding but the case is continued without a finding and the charges may eventually be dismissed if the defendant stays out of trouble for a certain period of time.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Education’s website, Manjunath’s teaching certificate is still valid and his credentials still make him eligible to teach.

Speaking in general terms not specific to Manjunath’s case, Lane said that charges can be dropped, mistakes can be made and news accounts can be inaccurate.

“I don’t put kids in harm’s way,” said Lane, adding Manjunath’s background was thoroughly reviewed. He stressed that there is sometimes “privileged information” that is inappropriate to discuss publicly.

In addition, Lane said that Manjunath will not be working for the local school district in the fall.

“He is not employed here after that time,” Lane said, referring to the last day of school later this month.

According to online reports, Manjunath won $30,000 in 2015 as a contestant on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” Prior to his arrest last fall, he was employed as a science teacher at Eagle Hill School in Hardwick, Mass.

Courts Crime Education Lyndeborough Wilton

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