May 272016
 

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FRONT PAGE COMMENTARY by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….

NOT TO SPEAK IS TO SPEAK, NOT TO ACT IS TO ACT

We wondered this week just how the Monroe County School Board was going to justify the rehiring of a disgraced employee, twice embroiled in school district financial scandals.

While the board did approve the $105,000 a year salary for Mike Henriquez in his new, specially tailored, Director’s job, they simply made sure, during the public meeting, to never once utter his name. This is how the board, in charge of a 163.7 million dollar budget, dances around an embarrassing truth.

In early 2009, a 43-page document began to circulate in Monroe County School District offices. It was a detailed account of potential fraudulent purchases made by the then Superintendent of School’s wife:  Monique Acevedo.

Monique was working under the direct supervision of Mike Henriquez. By the time the sound of scandal reached its peak in the public forum, Monique was accused of having embezzled over $400,000. She went away, sentenced to 8 years in prison, followed by 22 years of probation, and was ordered to begin paying off $413,000 in restitution upon her release.

Mike Henriquez had signed off on Monique’s School District P-card purchases: hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars were spent on airline tickets, clothing, furniture, groceries, sportswear, cosmetics, a chandelier, men’s designer suits, and more, all while employed as the District’s Adult Education Coordinator.

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Monique and Henriquez were also involved in administering another program when Monique first acquired her taste for embezzlement: Even Start.  It was supposed to help the children of Monroe County’s poorest families.  As it turns out its files were mostly populated by “ghost” children:  In spite of spending more than $250,000 in federal grant money, Even Start never signed up more than 7 families. Records showed that no more than one visit was made to clients, only one family actually qualified, and a performance audit showed that no adults or children had been involved in the program in any way.

Henriquez angrily defended himself at the time, claiming that he’d been the one to end the program when he realized Even Start was not producing any results.  However, according to reports the spending spree didn’t stop, even after the program was officially declared a failure. Precisely what had happened to the $250,000 in federal grant funds supervised by Mr. Henriquez was never addressed – not even during the Acevedo prosecution.

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One would think the experience would have turned Mike Henriquez into the most cautious of administrators when it came to public funds.  Last year, however, nearly $22,000 went missing from the daycare program under his supervision at HOB.  The State Attorney’s audit revealed the loose method he himself had designed to handle the daycare’s cash revenue:  At the end of the day, the money collected at the daycare center was to be placed in an unlocked drawer in a room accessible by at least a half dozen different people and the entire janitorial staff.

In the drawer the school bookkeeper would find the cash, which she would collect, sometimes at three to four days intervals, and deposit in the bank.  $22,000 went missing.  This time, Mr. Henriquez received a reprimand:  A 5-day suspension without pay.

Superintendent Mark Porter thereafter decided to remove Henriquez from his position as HOB Principal.  This week Mr. Henriquez was rehired as Coordinator of Alternative Education.  If that title sounds like a novelty it’s because it is:  in recent years the associated duties have been folded into other administrators’ jobs.

How was this new position advertised? Is Henriquez the best man for the job?  It’s hard to tell.  Apparently, there is no formal description of the job as yet; there wasn’t one in the back-up documents for this week’s school board meeting. As of press time the School District has not responded to our request for a copy of the District’s hiring procedures.

Mr. Henriquez is the son of “Bookie” Henriquez, the former, 24-year, Superintendent of Monroe County Schools.  His wife and two sisters are also employed by the School District.

Kathy Reitzel, the whistleblower whose 43-page report and subsequent testimony brought down the Acevedos, was fired.  So was the newly hired Director of the HOB Daycare program. The HOB money may not have been missing at all. Her greatest offense may have been to have caused the media to once again expose the financial incompetence of Mr. Henriquez.

Yet, he will now be discretely tucked away in his new $105,000 [plus benefits] a year specially-tailored director’s job.

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SEE RELATED: HOB DAYCARE SCANDAL: The Making of a Thief?

SEE RELATED: UPDATE: KATHY REITZEL HAS APPEALED JUDGE JONES’ RULING IN HER UNLAWFUL FIRING CASE. IF SHE WERE STILL ON THE JOB, WOULD SHE HAVE UNCOVERED AND QUICKLY DOCUMENTED ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE HOB FINANCIAL SCANDAL?

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Other administrators expected to earn more than $100,000 in the coming year, include:

Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Theresa Axford — $122,000

Executive Director of Operations & Planning Pat Lefere — $122,000

Executive Director of Finance James Drake — $120,000

Key West High School Principal Amber Bosco — $119,000

Director of Accountability & Assessment David Murphy — $116,000

Director of Student Services Leslie Thompson — $113,000

Coral Shores Principal Blake Fry — $105,000

Marathon High School Principal Wendy McPherson — $104,000

Director of Human Resources Ramon Dawkins — $102,000

Sugarloaf Principal Harry Russell — $100,500

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Below is the list showing all recommended professional and administrative position salaries for 2016-2017 school year.

[CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW]

school district salaries page 1

school district salaries page 2

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  7 Responses to “School Board’s Discussion on Henriquez Rehiring: “[silence]””

  1. If you’re a bubba in this town you will receive forgiveness from all the other bubbas. In any other small town a job performance like this would not only get you fired but would probably make it very difficult for you to find a similar job. Of course this is bubbaville where they create a high-paying job for you to ease into

  2. It is good for Naja and Arnaud to make all the corruption public so all may see! Thank you Naja and Arnaud!

  3. Bookie knows where the bodies are buried. Because of this his son Mikey will never go down.

  4. It isn’t a sure thing that Hernandez is going to get the Director of Alternative Education job. I heard that Randy Acevedo is the other applicant.

  5. Watching for 10 years now – School – County – KW City…it is great to see, out-going people make money on the suckers of this county.
    That is Key West at it’s finest.
    For hundreds of years the same thing and the sheep just Mo-z-ee over for the slaughter.
    Sad on you, “set-at-homer’s”, your investments are minimized, your children are short changed, and you want to fight for how good it is?

    “Get a life, and stop being used”…great line; has not worked in 100+ years.

    “Do what you want! and ask for forgiveness when caught.” Anyone tired of that yet?

    How about “one human Family” or “Golden Rule”

    The cops don’t want to respond to people that do not believe in common law of the land, and teachers don’t want to teach to kids of bums and commissioners only want to respond to the 1% not the other voters. (Except election year)

    So public officials please continue, for it is great copy, nice to past the time away in paradise.

    Remember when you; the public officials are gone, you have to live with the legacy “YOU” left behind, like being a lair, a crook, and a thief…see if the new Bubbas replacements back you for change to sanity and equality.

    Start telling the officials how great they are! and maybe, being the officials always do the opposite, the voters might just get something intelligent…yes I used the “I” word…

    The never ending story, Film at the eleventh hour…

    You could vote for someone, who has never been in office…Just a thought?

  6. Only one school board member truly “gets it” and MUST be reelected!!!!!!!!

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