Focus on Education
Tue April 15, 2014
U.S. Attorney to review alleged forgery on Buffalo school document
There are more twists in an ongoing alleged forgery case in the Buffalo Public School District. The District Parent Coordinating Council is calling on the federal government to investigate.
As part of our Focus on Education reporting, WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says the situation involves a parent leader who claims someone forged her name on documents submitted to the state as part of the District's schools improvement plan.
"As of right now, the State Education Department is holding $36million because of our allegation that the planned was developed fraudulently," said Sam Radford, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council.
Radford and parent Timeka Jones met with U.S. Attorney Bill Hochul Monday. Jones accused the principal at the Harvey Austin School of signing her name to the documents last fall.
In a WBFO news interview after meeting with the U.S. Attorney, Jones said her name was forged while she was hospitalized for surgery.
"At the time of the signature being signed, she knew I was in the hospital because she called my phone," said Jones. "She said 'we did', so I asked her what do you mean 'we did it' and she was like I take full responsibility because I'm the principal of your signature being forged, but we did it and that was that."
The School District's conducted its own investigation with a handwriting expert who found the signature was "disguised writing". Last month the district accused Jones of forging her signature. The school board accepted the conclusion. But Jones denies it and was critical of Buffalo Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown for the district's review.
"And being the leader for the whole district, you supposed to do a thorough investigation. You're not supposed to come up with this ridiculous solution saying that I forged my signature -- when for a fact you know I was in the hospital," said Jones.
Jones and Radford are still demanding a state and federal investigation. Radford said U.S. Attorney Hochul will begin an initial review.
"And there're going to go forward with their investigation. They've got three questions that the U.S. Attorney said they will be answering. One, if a crime was committed, two, if it was, what kind of crime was committed, and three, who committed the crime.
The school improvement documents in question were signed to provide federal education dollars to the city school district. Radford said false signatures point to fraud and obstruction of justice. Jones said she discovered that at least four other documents were also forged with her signature.