Friday, November 15, 2013





The management and misappropriation of taxpayer funds in the Mount Vernon School 
District extends beyond the central office and directly affects every child in the school district.  Superintendent Judith Johnson, Assistant Superintendent of Business Timothy Costello, James McGrath, and the school board have put in place financial practices that border on illegal; are funneling federal funds from the children to other budget line items; are striking deals with vendors without any input from building principals to the detriment of our students and staff.  They are destroying the academic progress the district has made over the past several years especially on the elementary level.

Sources inside of the Board of Education have told Mount Vernon that there is an active investigation involving several employees in the Purchasing Department.  Judith Johnson and her administration are tight lipped about the money flying out of the window at Central office. 

Illegal Practices of Mount Vernon School District Officials

Misuse of Federal and State Funding

1.     Federal Title I Funds are earmarked for “at risk” students.   Over $750,000 was not utilized, and the district was going to lose the money.  At a district meeting, the superintendent ordered principals to start AIS (Academic Intervention Services) tutoring for “at risk” students.  The funding for this tutoring would come from title one funds.   The school board unanimously approved legislation for the tutoring.  Timothy Costello, without any legal authority, tried to have these funds redirected to another line item in the budget believed to be one of the many hidden slush fund accounts he sets up to win favor and control the superintendent of schools. 

2.     Timothy Costello blamed this incident on someone else.  D.C.  Title I/Grants Coordinator (300 Pelham Road, New Rochelle, NY 10805) was the “fall guy” for this debacle in the finance department, and was led kicking and screaming from the Education Center, threatening to sue for wrongful termination. 

3.     Last year, Timothy Costello and Judith Johnson recommended ridiculous budget increase rates.  Voters approved a budget with a tax increase of less than 1%.  Because of poor planning by this school board and previous school boards several contingency budgets had to go into effect over the years.  A Contingency Budget does not put textbook and support material supply orders on hold. 

Recommendations to save money and therefore
provide the services our children need:

4.     Cut Mount Vernon High School Master Schedule Consultant and assistants paid $200,000 each year.  NOT NEEDED!

5.     At Mount Vernon High School, there are currently 9 Assistant Principals for 1,500 children.  The typical ratio is one administrator to every 500 children.  Therefore minimum of 5 Assistant Principals from the high school resulting in no loss of services to the children, and a streamlined administrative team. (Saving to taxpayers $650,000 + $250,000 in benefits = $900,000)

6.     In addition, just a few years ago the school district has places Assistant Principals in the elementary schools.  As per the standard ration of one administrator for every 500 students, any elementary school with enrollment of less than 500 students does not an Assistant Principal.  This would amount to approximately seven positions being reduced, and a potential savings of upwards of $1,000,000 + over $300,000 in benefits. 

Computer Clicker Technology and Financial Manager Program
(Cost to taxpayer $2.5 million)

Clicker technology and Financial Manager Program were recommended by former Superintendent W.L. Sawyer at the June 2009 Principals meeting.  The day after, without board approval and without going through the proper purchasing and bidding process, employees in the technology department were already making measurements in the schools for the equipment.  Williams Crockett (Director of Purchasing for The Mount Vernon City School District) and his assistant Hillary Thompson were unaware that any vendors had been selected or that employees would be out measuring for equipment without his authorization.   Just a few years ago a new Attendance Program (MUNIS) was installed.  Now the district wants a new system (Finance Manager) at a cost of $1.5 million. 

In addition, if this new Finance Manager system is installed, the current MUNIS system must be retained for at least 1 year ($1.5 million) requiring the district to pay twice the amount of money.  This new system was not included in the budget that taxpayers voted on, and is completely unrelated to the education of our students, which should be the administration’s main priority.  Even though Sawyer started this plan, Judith Johnson has continued to ride the money train and has been using this clicker technology to win favor with teacher, parents, and members of the public.  Where were the school attorneys when this scam occurred?  Where they in on it too?  Only time will tell. 

The total for both programs and the required services amounts to approximately $3 Million.  This is money that should be spent of teachers and student services, not clickers.
The culprits behind the Clicker scam are Joseph McGrath, Chief Information/Technology Officer for the Mount Vernon School District and Timothy Costello, Assistant Superintendent of Business.  Sources have told Mount Vernon Exposed that McGrath controls several accounts (slush funds) including credit cards, lines of credit, etc.  Sources have told Mount Vernon Exposed that McGrath controls approximately 5 as many as 10 accounts that are hidden from the public eye. 

Book Orders

Our investigation has found that building principals, teachers and curriculum leaders have been left out of the decision making process for book orders, and for selecting the vendors who provide the district with instructional material.  Instead, the Assistant Superintendent of Business and the Superintendent of Schools select the books and vendors, which are being selected in isolation and cost taxpayers more money than what is necessary.  As a result, many schools receive the wrong books, extra books, or no books at all. 

Another example of the wasteful spending practices of this administration is the printing of the new report cards.  These report cards were printed in triplicate and had to be discarded due to a defect in their design.  Ten of thousands of dollars wasted. 

The Mount Vernon community has the highest rate of foreclosure in Westchester County.  Taxpayers are being taxed out of their homes in record numbers due mismanagement of public funds by the central office administrators.  The political power from Washington D.C. to Albany earmarked millions of dollars for children so that teachers wouldn’t have to be laid off and the children would get the quality of education they deserve.   Instead, the current administration adds insult to injury by diverting these funds to unnecessary technology and top-heavy administrative costs. 

Sources have told Mount Vernon Exposed that Pennington School parents are suing the school district because of mismanagement at Central office.  Parents at Mount Vernon High School are suing the district due to the guidance counselors misleading their children and therefore their children do not have enough credits to graduate. 

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