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Mount Vernon school board votes for outside probes
Written by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon Nov. 9, 2013 |

lohud.com

MOUNT VERNON — Dogged by allegations of mismanagement and misconduct by a local blogger, the city school board has decided to put the claims through a truth test. The Board of Education voted unanimously on Wednesday to refer the allegations made by activist Samuel Rivers on his “Mount Vernon Exposed” blog to various federal, state and county agencies to determine if the broad-based charges of wrongdoing are valid or baseless. “It was a result of the (blog posts) that have been put out,” school board President Gerald Whiteside said. “Maybe school boards don’t react, but the allegations were, as such, that it really required some type of response and the resolutions were, ‘Well, let’s open up investigations if they need to be done.’ ” Rivers, a vocal critic of Mount Vernon government and schools, has used his website to accuse school district officials of mismanaging the district and squandering taxpayer dollars, going so far as to claim that some school officials were involved in “enrichment and racketeering schemes.” In resolutions it passed this week, the board said it would bring the claims to the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, the state Education Department and state comptroller, and the Westchester County district attorney. Officials at several of those agencies, including the FBI, declined to comment. The agencies are not required to investigate all claims brought to their attention. Rivers said he welcomed an outside probe and said he hopes the FBI puts the district “under a microscope.” “I think coming out of this resolution the U.S. Attorney and the FBI are going to have to open up an investigation into the district financing, their accounting practices, their hiring practices,” Rivers said. “I know they’re going to find something when they start looking into these matters that are brought to their attention.” “There’s a problem where our school budget goes up $115 million in 10 years and no one seems to know why.” But school board member Elias Gootzeit, who proposed the resolution, said he worried the accusations could drive Superintendent Judith Johnson from her $220,000-a-year post, less than two years after she was hired. “We’re a poor school district.” Gootzeit said. “We attracted a wonderful woman who was an assistant secretary of education under President Clinton. She’s been here for a year and a half or so and, thanks to Mr. Rivers, she would like to go sooner rather than later. And I think that’s pretty terrible.”

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Nov 10, 2013 04:11:39AM MST

http://www.lohud.com/article/20131109/NEWS/311090064/Mount-Vernon-school-board-votes-outside-probes?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7

“I have no intention to shut up anybody,” he added. “I think that somebody who poses himself in a position like yours should be able to verify their claims. I take exception to people who get their thrills from hurting people’s reputations without verifying what he’s saying.” Twitter: @jfitzgibbon

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Nov 10, 2013 04:11:39AM MST

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