After being convicted of car insurance fraud, accused of funneling $100,000 in school funds to a vendor, and allegedly failing to safeguard 600 disappeared Department of Education (DOE) computers, printers, and laptops, a former Staten Island acting principal received something surprising from the DOE: a brand new job with a great big raise and awesome health and pension benefits.
While school investigators noted Oneatha Swinton’s “pattern of dishonesty” and the Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI) for city schools recommended she be fired, the DOE saw fit to bestow on Swinton an unspecified place in its Office of Safety and Youth Development. The gig comes with a $187,000 salary — $25,000 more than she was making at Port Richmond High when she was arrested in 2018 for insurance fraud, the New York Post reports.
What’s more, DOE officials refused to release Swinton’s new job title or a description of her duties.
It’s a move by the DOE that has left parent leaders shocked and suspicious.
“Why would you continue to A) trust her and B) put her in charge of any sort of student development?” asked Ellen McHugh, co-president of the Citywide Council on Special Education. “Who does she know?”
The DOE gave Oneatha Swinton a sweetheart deal to stay on despite the criminal rap along with findings that she improperly funneled $100,000 in school funds to a vendor, and “failed to safeguard” 600 DOE computers, printers and laptops. https://t.co/iBSpAtoEh7
— atasteofcreole (@atasteofcreole) August 21, 2022
The Post first started covering the Swinton scandal in November 2017 when the interim principal was charged with six felony counts and removed to a so-called disciplinary “rubber room” by the DOE.
In December 2018. Swinton pled guilty to registering two Lexus SUVs in Pennsylvania in an effort to skirt New York’s pricey insurance rates. For her crime, she was ordered to pay $6,200 and an $800 fine and was handed three years’ probation.
“The SCI found that Swinton, at John Jay, paid a total $100,000 in split payments — which was against purchasing rules — to Tanya John, a DOE vendor and ex-principal in the Bronx, according to an SCI report released to The Post under the Freedom of Information Law,” The Post reports. “The money was reportedly spent on ‘Saturday retreats’ and overnight college trips, investigators say.”
According to Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, Swinton fraudulently listed John’s Pennsylvania home on her driver’s license and registration.
Furthermore, the SCI found that the 600 missing DOE computers disappeared after Swinton failed to inventory them while serving as principal at Brooklyn’s John Jay School for Law between 2010 and 2017. It was in June of 201y that she made the move to Port Richmond as its acting principal.
— Rob Schimenz (@RJSchimenz) August 21, 2022
In her January 2020 report to then-Chancellor Carranza, in which she recommended that Swinton be dismissed, Special Commissioner Anastasia Coleman wrote, “Swinton’s actions show a principal’s disregard for DOE rules and procedures and demonstrate a pattern of dishonesty.”
Swinton is also known as an anti-police activist who led a march through John Jay’s halls and kicked officers out of Port Richmond, angering some parents.
Her negative view of the Blue makes her appointment to an office that acts as a liaison with the NYPD all the more bewildering.
“All this, and they reward her? Unbelievable,” said former John Jay PTA president Annette Renaud. “It’s corrupt.”
Port Richmond’s former PTA president, Joann Nellis, agrees.
“’It’s people in power saying ‘rules for thee but not for me,’” she said.
In a statement from the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) — the principal’s union, which fights for those who have been accused of misconduct to retain their jobs — spokesman Craig DiFolco said only that, “Oneatha Swinton is a proven school leader and has been effectively performing as a supervisor for the Office of Safety and Youth Development since the DOE appointed her to that role.”
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