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Independent Investigator To Probe Accusations Of Corruption At School District In Westchester

The Mount Vernon School District is hiring an independent investigator to look into corruption accusations from residents related to use of grant funding and contract procurement.
The Mount Vernon School District is hiring an independent investigator to look into corruption accusations from residents related to use of grant funding and contract procurement. Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

A Westchester County school district is hiring a third-party investigator to investigate corruption accusations that residents have raised.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, Mount Vernon School District Superintendent Waveline Bennett-Conroy and Board of Education President Adriane Saunders released a joint statement in which they announced that the city's school district would "immediately retain the professional services of outside experts" to answer questions about the district's contractual procurement process and use of grant funding. 

In the statement, Bennett-Conroy and Saunders said that the New York Education Department has never found any "meaningful irregularities" in their routine audits of the district's grant funding usage. 

However, in a second statement released by Bennett-Conroy on Friday, Oct. 28, she clarified that these routine "audits" were instead reviews of financial information reported by the Mount Vernon school district performed by the New York Education Department that is required for their grant funding applications. 

"I recognize that this does not expressly constitute an ‘audit,’ which is why I fully support the Board of Education in its stated intention to have a third-party professional firm analyze our grant procurement and execution," Bennett-Conroy said in her statement from Oct. 28. 

In the original statement, Bennett-Conroy and Saunders said that the hiring of a third-party consultant comes from their belief in transparency. 

"These questions deserve answers, and not merely reassurances," they said. 

The third-party investigator will "review the past several years of transactional data and interview all relevant parties to create an objective set of conclusions" about the school district's use of grant funds and grant procurement process, according to the statement from Oct. 27. 

"We look forward to sharing these findings when they are completed," Bennett-Conroy and Saunders said. 

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