One of the corruption complaints to the city schools watchdog that allegedly went dormant involved a $45,000 party for a Bronx official appointed by Chancellor Richard Carranza, The Post has learned.
An anonymous letter sent to the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools, the Department of Education, and the City Council said underlings of Bronx Executive Superintendent Meisha Porter organized and raised funds for a lavish party celebrating her birthday and August 2018 promotion by Carranza.
The gala violated chancellor’s and conflict of interest rules, the letter charged.
“It was an outrageous thing that wasn’t investigated,” one complainant told The Post.
The SCI, responsible for rooting out wrongdoing in the DOE, has come under fire since a whistle-blower’s letter from its own investigative staff charged the agency has blocked probes of misconduct by Mayor de Blasio, Carranza and other “top level executives.”
Special Commissioner Anastasia Coleman denies shielding the VIPs, but City Councilman Ritchie Torres, oversight and investigations committee chairman, and Mark Treyger, education committee chairman, are planning a hearing on SCI’s performance as a DOE watchdog.
A spokeswoman for Coleman did not respond when asked if SCI probed the extravagant event in honor of Porter, a former Bronx superintendent named one of Carranza’s nine new “executive superintendents.” Porter now makes $209,476 a year.
About 400 guests attended Porter’s party, which was advertised on DOE email and fliers posted at Bronx school offices, the complaint states. Then-Bronx principal Denise Williams, who collected the money, has since taken another job in the borough office — and a pay cut. Her salary is now $149,473, down from was $161,560, the DOE said. A spokeswoman called it a “personal decision.”
Chancellor’s rules say employees are not “required or expected to contribute toward any gift or testimonial” to an DOE official or colleague. While attendance was not mandatory, the complaint said some employees felt coerced, saying “those who did attend may have the advantage of preferential treatment. … and those who did not fear retaliation.”
The DOE rules also say celebrations of a fellow employee’s promotion “should be held in school” and “must have a modest financial cost.”
The rules state DOE staff may receive only “gifts that are principally sentimental in nature and of small financial value.”
Porter’s $111-per-person affair featured a buffet, DJ and open bar at the Villa Barone Manor, a Bronx catering hall, The Post reported. Wearing a tiara and glittery white dress, Porter made a grand entrance in a glass elevator that rose onto the ballroom — a flourish that cost $500 extra.
DOE ethics officer Samantha Biletsky was also sent a copy of the complaint. The DOE said it referred the complaint to the SCI.
Source: Read Full Article