Roselle schools assistant superintendent quits

MORE TURMOIL — The resignation of Shakirah Harrington as Roselle schools assistant superintendent is only the latest in a series of defections from the district administration and school board this year.

ROSELLE, NJ — Assistant Superintendent Shakirah Harrington has resigned from the school district, leaving the top two administrative positions in the borough vacant as an audit indicates district funds were used to purchase two vehicles without the knowledge of the former superintendent.
Harrington announced her resignation June 28.

Superintendent Richard Corbett announced his resign
ation in May. In a statement to the LocalSource, he said his last day on the job was to be June 30.
Their resignations deal another blow to local school leadership at a time when a forensic audit of the spending by the school district last year appears to show the unauthorized purchase of two Ford F-150 pickup trucks, Apple watches and other items.

The audit, obtained by LocalSource from the Cranford Board of Education website, called the lease purchase of two vehicles “questionable.” According to the audit, the lease agreement for the trucks, totaling $86,647, was executed by the school business administrator. The down payment of $20,823 was paid with a manual check executed by the administrator “without any prior board approval.”

The audit also states the four-year lease agreement “was entered into without any board approval.”
LocalSource also obtained a copy of a letter board attorney Allan Roth sent to the state Board of Education’s Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance in March.

According to the letter, Corbett discovered purchase orders had been placed on school board agendas months after payments had been made. Corbett’s signature was forged on those purchases, the letter alleged.

Corbett placed business administrator Jason Jones and his assistant, Jade Wilson, on administrative leave in January.
The state office, at the request of Roth’s letter, has begun an investigation into the Roselle School District.

The school board last week voted to accept the results of the forensic audit, conducted by the Donohue, Gironda, Doria & Tomkins accounting firm and dated April 26.

The audit revealed several payments that exceed board thresholds, or payments by state law must be put to bid because they exceed a certain amount. In Roselle’s district, that amount is $40,000, Roth said.

The audit also found: 620 instances in which purchase orders were not signed by a department head or receiving official, and 87 instances where purchase orders were not signed by the superintendent; 416 instances in which purchase orders did not have supporting documentation, such as an invoice; 425 purchase orders that could not be located when the audit concluded April 18; 16 instances in which “aggregate purchases” from vendors during the fiscal year 2016-17 were in excess of the bid threshold without any evidence they had been put to bid or qualified as an exemption, nor were the contracts formally award by the board of such purchases.

Corbett and Harrington are the most recent in a growing list of departures from district administration and the board. School board member Arthur Rice resigned in January, followed by board secretary Dorian Timmons that same month. Jones and Wilson were also “relieved of their responsibilities,” effective Jan. 30.

Corbett served on an interim basis for about six months before being officially appointed as the top administrator in June 2017. State records show he made $127,000 annually. He is leaving with two years remaining on his contract and gave no reason for his departure.

Rice resigned about a year into his elected term, and for about two months afterward, the board was unable to pass any measures due to a lack of a quorum or tied votes.

The board eventually voted to appoint Courtney Washington to fill Rice’s vacant seat after a round of public interviews.
Anthony Juskiewicz is currently listed as the acting business administrator on the Roselle Board of Education website.

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