Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Too common a story

This is another local story that's repeated across the country.

A Miami-Dade schools administrator who oversees special-education programs used public money intended for disabled children to pay for her own children's tuition at a Broward private school, investigators said Tuesday.

Deborah Swirsky-Nuñez is charged with taking $19,000 in John McKay scholarship money, which is funded by the state to help offset the costs of private schools for children with disabilities, and using the money to pay for her son and daughter to attend a private school in Broward County, according to an arrest affidavit.

Swirsky-Nuñez falsified information on the applications, including the extent of her children's disabilities, forged signatures and asked schools employees to doctor records, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and the Miami-Dade School Board Inspector General.

"It is sad to think that a high-ranking public school administrator . . . would seek to pay her private school bills by using public monies intended to benefit the disabled," State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle said. "This is not a singular error of judgment. It is an act of arrogance and greed."

Swirsky-Nuñez is married to George Nuñez, a region superintendent who was on the shortlist of employees considered to replace former Superintendent Rudy Crew in 2008.

Together, the couple are paid more than $225,000 a year, according to records.

Anyone truly interested in saving the public school system would encourage, demand and support investigations and audits to stamp out the rampant waste, fraud, kickbacks, cronyism and corruption in our public schools.

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