Falling down Hill…
…and no one to catch us.
Why would Chancellor Dennis Walcott publicly state “We are aware of the issues at IS 49 and are working closely with Tweed to resolve them.” on June 6, 2012 and then not resolve the issues?
When my allegations, of financial misconduct, started to materialize into actual crime backed with proof, I didn’t immediately post it on my site. I tried to offer damage control to both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott. I copied the Panel for Educational Policy See email below
From: Francesco Portelos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, May 30, 2012
Subject: Resolution and damage control
To: “DMWalcott@schools.nyc.gov” <DMWalcott@schools.nyc.gov>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Chancellor and Mr. Mayor,
Is there any way I can meet with you, or your deputies, to discuss a resolution to this growing retaliation and reassignment issue? My intentions were not to make anyone look bad, including the DOE, Mayor Bloomberg and UFT. This really started off as an innocent question about school goals and budget at an SLT meeting. It has since spiraled out of control to public blogging, investigations, PERB complaints, lawsuits and news media requesting interviews (CNN, Huffingtonpost, Daily News etc).
Yesterday I received part of my FOIL request and it is clear that Principal Linda Hill has been involved in major financial misconduct at Berta Dreyfus IS 49. She hand writes her own times and signs off. She clocked in for one grant while sitting and getting paid at another. She uses her P-Card for personal items, clocks in while at a restaurant etc.
I left the environmental inspection field, with my engineering degree from Polytechnic University, to educate inner city youth 5 years ago. I voluntarily took a $ 20,000+ cut in salary to educate, not to sit in a rubber room with no charges. Why am I being scrutinized and harassed?
Surely there must be some way we can resolve this. What I want is to return to my school, finish my administrators license and continue serving the students and community of this great city. Is this feasible?
Please take a look at the testimonials and comments on the sites below. I’m very resourceful and resilient. Please guide me. Thank you.
– Francesco Portelos
Here we are, almost 300 days later, and our DOE can’t think of a plausible exit strategy? Shall I continue with publishing misconduct? I think I shall. Documents supporting my findings can be found at the very bottom.
- Principal Linda Hill did not walk the fifteen feet to a digital time clock and rather hand wrote her own time in for per session that was added to her $145,000 salary. Violation of Chancellor Regulation C-175
- When a teacher performs per session, the principal signs off. When a principal performs per session, their supervisor signs off. Principal Linda Hill’s supervisor is District 31 Superintendent Erminia Claudio. Upon careful review of the time cards, sent to me my by the DOE FOIL unit, I did not see the superintendent’s signature anywhere. I did see Principal Hill signing her signature twice. Click here to see some of Principal Hill’s time cards and per-session sheets.
- This brings me to the next point. In just three short years, Principal Linda Hill collected almost $40,000 in extra per-session using the Achieve Now Academy program. I asked far and wide and they tell me it’s unheard of for a principal to make that much. Actually there was one. An investigation found that the Principal, Liza Cruz Diaz, assigned to PS 31 in the Bronx, directed payroll secretary to punch time card hours after she left in which she received thousands of dollars in per session pay for work she did not perform. The similarities between this report and our school are uncanny.
- Teachers were taking over a dozen 8.5″x11″ pieces of copy paper and sticking it on their chalkboards so they can project their lessons on. Projecting on dark green does not work too well. They would also bring in tablecloths or project onto the window shades. They also had expensive smartboards, but were missing essential wires to make them operate. Instead of purchasing these wires, teachers were told to get them on their own. Why? “We just don’t have the money” Principal Linda Hill would say. However, she was able to find $3,000 to get herself a new Macbook Pro 17″. It’s one of the most expensive laptops that could be purchased on shopdoe.com. Actually she bought three of them. What happened to the Macbook she already had? Good question, but due to the great lack of oversight and accountability, it could have disappeared and reappeared anywhere. We, the SLT, have asked to see the budget for over a year, but have not been given access.
- When I saw we had money in our budget, for hardware, I presented the information to the principal. “Let’s use the NYSTL money to purchase light bulbs for all the projectors that are burnt out.” Her response was “NYSTL money is for hardware and projector bulbs are software.” There was a long delay in obtaining these bulbs and teachers had to resort to old chalk and talk instead of graphic enriched and engaging presentations.
- A 2011 internal audit, performed by NYC DOE OAG, found many issues with regard to how the school funds were spent. The section adjacent to the findings was called Management Explanation/Root Cause and in every case the response was “Per the Principal, this was an oversight“. For those of you who don’t know, auditors do not look at every single expenditure, but rather take samples. The over payment column listed over $38,000 in taxpayer funds in just the 2010 school year alone. See entire audit here.
- One of the OAG findings was that Principal Lind Hill used the school’s credit card, P-Card, for her own personal items. This lead me to FOIL the principal’s credit card statements from 2009-2012 as I FOILed the audit report. The list of purchases was extensive and I did not have check them all. See Principal Hill’s School Credit Card statement here.
- On another occasion, the OAG found that Principal Hill broke down payments to a vendor, so she would not need approval. Picture trying to by a $20,000 car on a company credit card. Anything over $2,000 has to be approved by your supervisor, so you go and buy the car with 10 smaller payments of $2,000. It wasn’t a car and was probably used for school, but as you can see from the statements and audit report it does not show a good sign of integrity and good practice. I believe the broken down payments were for PINMAN to purchase about 100 flash drives. I now remember that Principal Hill would give me some to sell, for about $10, to the students. I would then hand the money back over to her. Perhaps someone, with authority, should ask where that cash went. See Principal Hill’s School Credit Card statement here.
- School Leadership Team (SLT) is a group of parents and staff that meet to discuss goals of the school and align the budget to those goals. Because we meet after work hours and spend time for the school, we receive a stipend at the end of the year. It’s not much and approximately $300 per year. The meetings always started at 4PM and were always on a Tuesday. The Achieve Now Academy program, from the Office of Safety and Youth Development, is always Tuesday to Thursday from 2:30PM to 5:30PM. What would it mean if Principal Hill was sitting at the SLT from 4PM, collecting her stipend, and then being on the clock for DANA (Achieve Now Academy)? We would call that double dipping, a phrase that sounds all too innocent, since we are talking about tax dollars that should be servicing students in need. It’s interesting that now, in the 2012-2013 school year the SLT meets at 6PM so it does not interfere with the Achieve Now Academy. See incidents of overlapping times here in green.
- On May 16, 2009, about 100 volunteers showed up to school on a Saturday to help with the HOPE garden. They were digging, planting, weeding and laying down stone. Principal Hill clocked herself in for the Achieve Now program and paid herself $223. Perhaps this was part of the program. See post Taxpayer pays for Weeding?
- There are several instances where Principal Hill’s use of her Achieve Now Academy time seemed strange. For example paying herself on a Saturday after school was finished in June. See incidents of Saturdays here in red
- Potential Asbestos Hazard- Principal Hill hired a private contractor to demolish a wall. No containment was used and no asbestos inspection was done. The school’s AHERA report indicates that there was material that may have contained asbestos. NYC DOE Division of School Facilities read my blog post, Principal’s Negligence Causes Asbestos Hazard, and told me I was 100% correct. Where is the media coverage on this?
- School enrollment has dropped significantly.
- Reported incidents have spiked
- Bribes with tax dollars….more information on that later.
- “Not So Confidential” emails
There is much more, but for now here is just some supporting media:
Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. Walcott, Ms. Jackson-Chase and the rest of Tweed….where are you? Is this why I am out of the classroom? Is this what you are afraid of me finding out?