Thursday, April 17, 2014



The search for a Superintendent in Mount Vernon has taken a turn for the worse and it appears that the Mount Vernon City School District is on the brink of disaster.  About one month ago School Board Trustee Elias Gootzeit organized a forum in which the public would hear from the candidates that were selected as finalist for the position of Superintendent. 

There were four candidates there that evening that came to present themselves to the public.  Of the four only one candidate had the credentials and experience to assume the role as Superintendent of the Mount Vernon public schools.  That candidate was Robert Wayne Harris.  Harris was previously employed as Superintendent of the Roosevelt School system in Long Island prior to applying for the position in Mount Vernon.  Roosevelt was the only school district in the history of New York State to be taken over by the state.  Mr. Harris was the first superintendent to lead that district since the state takeover. 

Harris made remarkable results while he was the Superintendent in Roosevelt.  Test scores were on the rise and the graduation rate was steadily improving. 

Harris was asked during the public comment period at the forum, if he supported an audit of district finances?  Harris impressed the audience with his response and with his respect and compassion for the taxpayer.  Harris told the crowd that he found over $1M of bogus payroll positions during his 1st year as school chief in Roosevelt.

“Mr. Conflict of Interest”, the Chairperson of the Superintendent search committee has failed in his duties to bring in a qualified and competent Superintendent to lead the Mount Vernon Schools.  Instead, Mr. Gootzeit has engaged in political debauchery to the detriment of our children and taxpayers. 

According to sources, a preliminary vote was taken during executive session to see which candidate would be asked to come on as Superintendent. A 7-1 vote in favor of and with School Board Interim President Len Sarver being the only person voting against Robert Wayne Harris.

Trustee Gootzeit wears too many hats and injects himself into too many things, which makes it impossible to keep his focus on the task at hand.  Trustee Gootzeit is a destructive force on the Mount Vernon School Board and must been removed next year when it is time for election.

With that being said, Trustee Gootzeit is only part of the problem.  The other part of the problem is school attorney Gus Mountanos.  Gus is unethical and talks out of both sides of his mouth.  Gus frequently advises the school board and the public on policies, many which conflict with civil rights laws.  Gus is an obstructionist to progress and reform in the Mount Vernon City School District.

Gus is also charged with responsibility though his law firm, Ingerman Smith, LLP, with reviewing contracts sent out to prospective employees.  Instead of estimating employee contracts in good faith, Gus uses this as an opportunity to do the bidding of School Board President Len Sarver and the other politicos that have been meddling in school district business. 

For example, there was a highly qualified candidate that applied for the position of Assistant Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds last year.  The applicant did everything that was asked of him including attending on a moment’s notice, several meetings where he was required to meet with board members. 

When a majority of board members decided that they wanted this individual for the position, Gus was instructed to prepare contracts and sent to the prospective employee’s attorney. Gus through his legal maneuvering sent over one-sided contracts that he knew would be rejected.  The prospective employee then had to spend thousands of dollars on an attorney to review the contract.  This charade kept on for about six months until the prospective employee decided that no more money was going to be wasted on lawyers and Gus Montanous’ shenanigans.  

Immediately after school trustees decided that they wanted to go with Robert Wayne Harris as their choice, Gus was instructed to send him a contract with the expectation of having Mr.Harris execute it and have it returned to the district within 48 hours.  

According to sources, Gus again prepared a one sided contract that even Ray Charles would reject.  Gus then became the gatekeeper to all of the information that Mr. Harris was seeking to review to see if he indeed still wanted to pursue the Superintendent position in Mount Vernon. 

Harris asked for an organizational chart of the district and for other pertinent information and was purposely stonewalled by Gus Mountanos and Interim School Superintendent Judith Johnson.  To the detriment of our children and Mount Vernon taxpayers, Mr. Robert Wayne Harris has sent in a letter this week declining to come work for the Mount Vernon City School district.  

This was the plan all along.  School and City officials knew that it was only a matter a time before Mr. Harris declined the position.   What competent person would take a job without knowing who their cabinet members were?  

School Officials, City officials, and political insiders are now trying to get their candidate, Richard Tomko in position to accept the job as Superintendent.  With Tomko in place they can be assured that the money train will  continue to run its course without any detours.   

To be continued……….

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