By; Tom Duggan – May, 2011
Lawrence School Committeeman Sammy Reyes (District D) has written a scathing letter to the city council demanding that education funds (which were used for city services) be repaid to the school children of Lawrence. In his letter, Reyes threatens to turn in the Lantigua administration for misappropriation of state education funding (called Chapter 70).
At issue is $165,234.87 that was illegally paid out of education funding to a law firm that did work on Lawrence High School.
“On December 20, 2010 the School Committee was asked to approve paying 18 invoices to Hinckley, Allen, and SN for a total of 165,234.87.” Reyes wrote.
“I want to make it clear that these invoices are the responsibility of the City of Lawrence and not LPS (Lawrence Public Schools).” Both the Mayor and Dr. Bergeron stated during the discussion that the Mayor, (on behalf of the City) was asking for a loan and that the City was going to pay LPS back. This motion did not pass as it was a 3-3 vote due to Mr. Bonet not being present. As you may or may not be aware of Chapter 70 funds can not be used to pay City expenses.”
“I voted against this motion because during my first term as a SC member I saw how the previous administration, along with the previous Superintendent, abused Chapter 70 funds and grants. As schools across the Commonwealth struggle with budget shortfalls, I will do all I can to ensure that interim Superintendent, Dr. Bergeron responsibly handles our limited funds.”
“The reason for this letter is to put everyone on notice that if the Mayor attempts to either put this item back on the agenda or if he convinces Dr. Bergeron to use grant funds to pay for these invoices like they did with Maria Cruz, then I will have no choice other then to file a complaint with the appropriate agencies.”
Maria Cruz was a school department employee whom Lantigua moved from the school department to his office while continuing to pay her out of Chapter 70 Education dollars in violation of state laws.
Reyes was the whistle blower in the Wilfredo Laboy indictment which also leads to the indictment of his brother Isreal Reyes.
Committeeman Sammy Reyes says that he is tired of Lantigua using money “that is supposed to go to the students of the Lawrence Public Schools to balance the city budget or pay for city services. This is a violation of Chapter 70 and I’m here on this committee to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Reyes says his complaint to the state will outline the lack of “internal controls”
“Be assured that my complaint will place a heavy emphasis on accountability and transparency,” his letter stated.
Reyes is currently investigating several other issues with education funds being used by the Lantigua administration for non educational uses. He says that while Lantigua has been using workers from the Internet and Technology department of the Lawrence Public Schools to work in city hall, and has not paid back the schools for those services, he believes that Lantigua may finally pay up before the end of the fiscal year (June 30).
I believe those bills are going to be paid and an effort is being made to pay back the students of Lawrence for those expenditures. But I am still concerned that these legal bills, which are supposed to be paid for by the city are going to charged to us once again and my job as a representative of the taxpayers is to make sure that doesn’t happen.