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Opinion

During June of 2005, as a result of the zero tolerance culture and the efforts of the school administration, the Port Washington School District discovered that a member of its teaching staff may have submitted inaccurate pay slips that resulted in her receiving duplicate payments. The District immediately undertook its own investigation in accordance with Board policy practice and the law. Once the investigation confirmed that this activity may have occurred, the school officials immediately contacted the Nassau County District Attorney's Office. The amount involved appeared to be approximately $2,800.

The superintendent also took the preemptive measure of filing a formal report with the New York State Commissioner of Education pursuant to Part 83 of the Commissioner's Regulations regarding the allegations. In addition, the accused was reassigned from the school building setting and is being paid as required by State law.

The Port Washington School District takes its fiscal and legal obligations seriously and the current case is no exception. Once the alleged theft was uncovered, the district, under the direction of the school board, its attorneys and the superintendent, undertook to fully and fairly discover the extent of the alleged fraud, secure supporting evidence and promptly, on its own, bring this matter to the attention of the district attorney. In our view, this is a paradigm of how a district can proactively ferret out fraud or abuse and preserve the public trust and taxpayer funds.

The District's fraud, waste and abuse task force, established by the Superintendent and Board Budget Chair in 2003, has been aggressive in ferreting out wrongdoing. The district intends to continue to cooperate fully with the investigation of criminal charges, as they proceed and will evaluate what, if any, additional action may be appropriate in light of the evidence as it is developed. It is important to note that the Nassau County DA's office "thanked the Port Washington UFSD for its cooperation through the investigation" in its press release after the arrest.

Any questions can be directed to either Howard Miller, Esq., school attorney, or Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geoffrey N. Gordon.


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