Tuesday, October 22, 2013



Already under fire for hiding failing test scores from board members and keeping board members in the dark about dangerous levels of asbestos in city schools, more explosive allegations are being made against Mount Vernon Interim School Superintendent Judith Johnson.

Johnson stands accused of electioneering and using the school district’s K-12 emergency response system to get the school budget passed by voters. Johnson even went far as using taxpayer funded school resources including but not limited to copiers, computers, and personnel during the last election to get the school budget passed. 

According to sources familiar with the probe, school board attorneys are investigating the matter to determine if criminal charges are warranted before the matter is referred to law enforcement authorities.

The scene of the crime was Mount Vernon High School, where Jason Pritchard, at the expense of Mount Vernon taxpayers, printed thousands of flyers and had them put into each and every child’s backpack in the entire Mount Vernon City School district.  

Johnson instilled fear and anxiety in parents by telling them that a “NO” vote would hurt the kids, however Judith Johnson did not tell parents that she awarded her crony, Pennington PTA Vanessa Ritter with a no show $60,000 per year job disguised under the bogus title of “Web Designer”. 

The flyers in question told voters to vote “YES” for the budget.  Johnson had former school board trustee Delia Farqharson record a message urging all to vote “YES” for the budget.  The recorded message was then illegally blasted using the K-12 emergency alert system.  The K-12 alert is used to call and notify parents in the event of school closings or other perilous events. 

Johnson’s highhanded behavior and blatant disregard for the law began long before her arrival in Mount Vernon.  According to a recent article in the Journal News this past weekend, three guidance counselors handpicked and hired by Johnson are now facing criminal charges for changing test scores on standardized tests.  As a result of this flim flam grade changing scandal, Johnson received several awards, including most improved school district.  Johnson was also named superintendent of the year.

School Board trustees who are elected at large by members of the public have had a very difficult time navigating the waters of the Johnson administration.  Johnson is deliberately withholding information, including asbestos reports and failing grades from board members.  To add insult to injury and to stall board members, Johnson requires that all board members seeking basic information must file a Freedom of Information request with the clerk of the board.   

Is Johnson fit to continue to serve as school superintendent?  Will criminal charges be brought against Johnson? Only time will tell.  Johnson has failed to realize that she works for and serves at the pleasure of the school board and the taxpayers and not vice versa. 

It is quite obvious that Johnson does not believe in transparency.  When it was made public that there are dangerous levels of asbestos still present in Cecil H. Parker Elementary School, Johnson deployed extra security guards and even called for a police presence to ensure that reporters from News 12 did not gain access to inside the school. 

Prior to the 9 A.M. press conference at Parker school, school board trustee Frances Wynn went to the school to ensure that security was in place to make sure the press did not gain access to the areas of the school identified in the report that contains mold and asbestos.

Wynn, who at the time of the press conference did not see the report, went on the defensive stating that “the Interim Superintendent hides nothing”.  When the News12 reporter asked Wynn about why the report wasn’t given to board members, Wynn could not answer and began to speak gibberish.  Wynn also admitted to the reporter that school board members should have been notified and received the asbestos report. 

“I am not employed by nor do I work in any capacity for the school board,” said Rivers. “The buck stops with Judith Johnson, she must come clean with taxpayers or resign. It is time to tighten up or ship out.  It is not my job to inform board members about asbestos when Johnson gets paid over $260K a year to do what I am doing for free.  Taxpayers can no longer afford Johnson’s arrogance and ignorance of the law.”  Rivers added.     

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