Principal will still hand out diplomas days after fraud arrest --- While her students will be wearing caps and gowns Monday, Port Richmond High School interim principal Oneatha Swinton might want to consider donning an orange jumpsuit..... NY Post, Sue Edelman
Here is the link to the Daily News article:
And the NY Post:
While her students will be wearing caps and gowns Monday, Port Richmond High School interim principal Oneatha Swinton might want to consider donning an orange jumpsuit.
The embattled educator is scheduled to hand out diplomas at the Staten Island school’s commencement ceremony — even though she was arrested last week on felony insurance-fraud charges.
School leaders dashed off a letter Friday to Chancellor Richard Carranza demanding Swinton’s “immediate removal,” citing the criminal case and complaints that she has mismanaged the budget.
But a city Department of Education spokesman on Saturday said Swinton will remain in the post “while we review the charges.” The DOE would not say if Swinton will show up for graduation.
Swinton, 39, is accused of registering two Lexuses at the Pennsylvania home of a city vendor she had hired, a scheme The Post exposed last November.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro hit Swinton with four counts of insurance fraud, plus theft by deception and criminal conspiracy.
The vendor, Tanya John, a former city principal, is charged with insurance fraud and conspiracy for allegedly letting Swinton use her East Stroudsburg, Pa, address to get low-cost car insurance.
A defiant Swinton, who is seeking to be named permanent principal, refused to comment when confronted by a Post reporter at the school Friday.
But Swinton recently contended her critics are unfair.
“I know that people have done things to disrupt me or make me leave,” Swinton told a School Leadership Team meeting this month. “There are people looking to get me on an investigation.”
City Councilwoman Debi Rose, who has staunchly defended Swinton, is set to speak at Monday’s graduation ceremony. “I understand that these allegations are serious, but individuals are innocent until proven guilty, so therefore we await the outcome the court proceedings,” Rose said in a statement to the Post.
In a criminal complaint, the Pennsylvania AG said John put her energy bill in Swinton’s name for three months in 2014 so that Swinton could show it as proof of residency to obtain a driver’s license. She also used the fake address to register two luxury cars, replacing one Lexus with another.
Swinton then bought car insurance using her fraudulent Pennsylvania license and registration — saving about $3,000 because rates are cheaper in rural East Stroudsburg than in NYC, the AG said.
She later filed two claims, both in September 2016, reporting damage to her car in Staten Island and Brooklyn fender-benders, costing the insurer $2,247 to repair.
After getting wind of the AG investigation in December 2017, officials said, she tried to cover her tracks by getting a New York driver’s license with her own Staten Island address, and changed the registration of her Lexus to New York State.
Swinton and John, who have not yet entered pleas, turned themselves in Thursday, and both were released on $5,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 15. Swinton called in “sick” that day, staffers said.
John, 44, is the CEO of Feetz LLC, which has collected at least $1.3 million in payments from DOE schools since 2012 to tutor students, run “character development programs,” and take kids on college tours.
Swinton hired Feetz at the Secondary School for Law in Brooklyn, where she was formerly principal. Soon after joining Port Richmond last year, Swinton planned to hire Feetz again, staffers said.
Swinton has endorsed Feetz on its website with a blurb saying “Teamwork really does make the Dreamwork!”
John, married to a DOE teacher, refused to comment.