It has been 3 weeks since Mount Vernon School Board Trustee’s voted unanimously to have Federal investigators take a look at the books and allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse within the City of Mount Vernon School district. School Board Trustee Elias Gootzeit authored the resolution. On Monday, November 19, 2013, Gootzeit held a forum at Mandela High School, “What to do when stopped by the police”. Many parents informed Mount Vernon Exposed that they were outraged and troubled that a school board trustee would hold a seminar about being stopped by the cops instead of having a seminar of importance such as, preparing for college, or preparing for life after high school.
The resolution unanimously approved by school board trustees calls for School Board President Gerald Whiteside and the school attorney to forward all allegations of corruption found on this website. As of today, school board President Gerald Whiteside nor the school board attorney have turned over any documentation to Federal authorities. Mount Vernon Exposed recently revealed that the current board President, Gerald Whiteside although a good board member, has been a less than mediocre Board President. Whiteside has seldom sat with Mount Vernon Superintendent Judith Johnson when preparing the tabs (resolutions) for upcoming board meeting. This inaction on Whiteside’s behalf has led to School Board President Len Sarver sitting with Johnson in Whiteside’s place. Sarver and Johnson have gone wild with taxpayers’ funds and have awarded lucrative contracts to cronies of Sarver and Johnson.
Last month, Mount Vernon Exposed revealed that Armani Charter School went on a spending spree in excess of $200K of taxpayer funds. Armani Charter School has been a hot button topic in the City of Mount Vernon for the past several years. Debra Stern, wife of former school board President Charles Stern, started the Armani Charter School. Parents and taxpayers have long questioned the motives and the reasoning behind the creation of the Armani Charter School.
Debra Stern and Charles Stern had two young children attending the Lincoln Elementary School. As the children were nearing graduation, the Sterns did not want their children attending the Mount Vernon public middle schools. So the Sterns craftily drafted a plan that would personally enrich them while solving the problem of the young children attending the Mount Vernon Public Middle Schools.
While serving as Board President, Charles Stern, studied night and day to find out where the money was in the school budget for his Charter School. Stern had the hand of Assistant Superintendent of Business Timothy Costello to assist in his quest to loot already cash strapped taxpayers. Stern, Costello and School Board Vice President Sarver are parishioners at the Sinai Free Synagogue in Mount Vernon.
Costello publicly on several occasions spoke out against the creation of the Armani Charter School. Costello told the public that the Armani Charter School would bankrupt the school district.
It turns out that Costello was talking out of both sides of his mouth when it came to the Armani Charter School. Costello’s behavior and ethics also comes into when it comes to the Armani Charter School.
On October 28, 2013, Mount Vernon Exposed revealed to the public that the Armani Charter School went on a wild spending spree spending in excess of $200K on a brand new file server, custom purple molding, laptops, and electrical service upgrades. Upon information and belief, the electrician that did the electrical work for Armani Charter School is connected to and is a close friend of School Board Vice President Len Sarver.
When news broke that Mount Vernon Exposed was hot on the trail of corruption at the Armani Charter School, Timothy Costello on orders from School Superintendent Judith Johnson began to take steps to cover up their criminal acts including backdating memorandums and correspondence to make it appear that Costello’s office and the Mount Vernon City School district found the fraud instead of Mount Vernon Exposed’s investigative team.
On September 25, 2013, Costello sent a letter to the attention of Debra Stern at the Armani Charter School. The letter stated that 17 students were discharged from the Armani Charter School and that Armani Charter School officials were indeed billing taxpayers erroneously. The letter also stated that an investigation by City of Mount Vernon School district attendance officers determined based on conversations with parents that 12 students also being billed to Mount Vernon taxpayers were no longer attending the Armani Charter School. The Mount Vernon City School district said in the letter that it intended to recoup the fraudulent charges by deducting $89,635.99 from the next bi-weekly payment to the Armani Charter School.
On October 31, 2013, the Armani Charter responded to Costello’s letter dated September 25, 2013 by stating they will be refunding the money overbilled to Mount Vernon taxpayers.
One must wonder how long has this billing discrepancy been going on and should taxpayers be concerned about Armani’s accounting practices from previous years? How did Costello detect the Armani overbilling? What other accounts and vendors have been overbilling the Mount Vernon School district?
The documents presented to Mount Vernon Exposed are questionable. Under normal circumstances, documents are time stamped by a mechanical clock so there is a record of when the said document was received. The documents from Armani Charter School reviewed by Mount Vernon Exposed were not time stamped by the clock instead they were stamped with a ink pad that can be easily obtained at Target or Staples.
School Board members must remain focused and not get distracted from doing their jobs. They do not work at the pleasure of the school board attorney and the Superintendent of Schools. School Board President Gerald Whiteside must do as he was directed, and serve the taxpayer by turning over all allegations of corruption to Federal authorities. Mr. Whiteside must step up or step down. We are watching you Mr. Whiteside and everything that you do! Remember you were elected to serve the taxpayers in good faith, let your conscience be your guide!!!