EXCLUSIVE: Central Falls School ‘Whistleblower’ Punished
Friday, May 27, 2011
Connie Dube, the president of Local 1627 of Council 94 AFSCME, confirmed that Suzanne G. Eannarino was put on indefinite leave yesterday. Dube said the school district administration thinks she is the one who provided state Senator John Tassoni with copies of a purchase order and an invoice for a new time clock system that cost at least $55,000.
She said that Eannarino did not leak the document. Tassoni also said she was not the source.
“They’re hiding something,” Dube told GoLocalProv. “Somebody’s running scared.”
Tassoni has used the information as evidence that the district is wasting money and being mismanaged. He has called for Superintendent Frances Gallo to resign and is asking the Board of Regents to conduct a forensic audit of the district finances.
GoLocalProv first reported on the purchase of the time clock on Thursday—the same day that Eannarino was put on leave.
Dube said Finance Director Giovanna Venditti confronted Eannarino about the release of the documents but was unable to provide any evidence that she was the source of the leak. She said the documents in question are not under lock and key and could have been accessed by anyone in the central office.
“I don’t why they are targeting union people. Why aren’t they targeting non-union people? It could have been anybody,” Dube said. “I think she just wants to get rid of the union.”
She considers the incident a violation of the contract for Local 1627, which includes bus drivers, clerks, secretaries, and teaching assistants in Central Falls schools. Eannarino is listed as an Accounts Payable Clerk in the central office for the district. She has worked for the district for more than 20 years.
State Senator blasts Gallo
Tassoni was outraged to learn of the incident—and he sharply criticized Gallo for her role in it. “I’m extremely disappointed at the action of the administration if this is geared toward me and the paperwork that I received,” said Tassoni, D-Smithfield, who is a former business agent for Local 1627. “Obviously there is an issue over there now. The issue is that her kingdom is crumbling down around her. She’s like a rat in a corner. She’ll do anything to save her kingdom.”
Repeated efforts to reach Gallo for comment were unsuccessful. Venditti also did not respond to a request for comment.
GoLocalProv has also been told by two separate sources that there will be more fallout over the release of financial documents today. One source said that another worker in the central office will be put on leave today because that worker is also suspected of leaking sensitive information. Another source, a teacher at Central Falls High School, said Gallo is launching an investigation into the staff at the central office.
The teacher said the incident is meant to instill fear in employees throughout the district—to keep them from criticizing how it is being run. “By putting this woman on administrative leave it will scare other people into conforming to her will,” the teacher said. “It’s all about intimidation with her. It’s all about fear.”
In interviews with GoLocalProv, a number of teachers at Central Falls High School have said they are worried they would face retaliation from the administration if they spoke out over issues in the high school—especially discipline issues. Jane Sessums, the president of the Central Falls Teachers Union, has said that some teachers who have voiced concerns have been reprimanded.
Teacher says she was reprimanded for reporting threat
One teacher who resigned earlier this month told GoLocalProv that she was formally reprimanded for the way that she reported a threat from a student last year. Dale Dearnley, who was a science teacher at Central Falls High School, said that the student had shouted obscenities at her and threatened to kill her. When she told an administrator she wanted to file a police report, she was told it was “not a matter for the police.” Then, she was reprimanded for writing the student’s full name on a school incident report which she had been told to fill out.
“This is in direct contradiction of Dr. Gallo’s recent claims that teachers are free to report violence and threats of violence to the police,” Dearnley said.
State law protects whistleblowers
Tassoni said he is pressing for a quick hearing on a resolution he introduced Wednesday calling for the Board of Regents to conduct a forensic audit of the Central Falls School District. He said he has the support of more than a dozen colleagues. “I’m not stopping because innocent people are … getting hurt by her actions,” Tassoni said. “This is not a way to run an administration.”
Tassoni said he believed that the worker put on leave is protected under the law as a whistleblower, since she was disciplined for being a suspected source of a leak.
The Rhode Island Whistleblowers’ Act says that employers cannot “discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate” against an employee who has told a “public body” about a violation of a law or regulation which the employee “knows or reasonably believes” has occurred. The employee is also protected if he or she asks a government agency to do an investigation or hold a hearing. (Click here to read the law.)
The law does not institute any criminal penalties for violations, but it says that those who have faced repercussions for being whistleblowers can sue for damages within three years of the incident.
If you valued this article, please LIKE GoLocalProv.com on Facebook by clicking HERE.
- A LIVELY EXPERIMENT May 19, 2011 Central Falls Schools
- AG Candidate Little Tied to Central Falls Mayor
- BREAKING NEWS: Central Falls Teachers Say It’s a Deal
- BREAKING NEWS: Chafee to Keep Central Falls Receive for One More Month
- BREAKING NEWS: Gist - Central Falls Teachers, Administration Reach a Deal
- BREAKING NEWS: State Senator Calls for Central Falls Superintendent to Resign
- Central Falls & Pawtucket Merger: How Would It Affect RI?
- Central Falls Broke, Judge Names Receiver
- Central Falls Receiver Appoints His Own Council
- Central Falls School District Get $1.3 Million Grant
- Central Falls Teachers Vote No Confidence in Gallo
- Central Falls Teachers: Don’t Blame Us
- Central Falls-Pawtucket Merger: Residents Speak Out
- Councilman Calls for Central Falls Mayor to Resign
- Critics: Central Falls Receiver Sets ‘Dangerous Precedent’
- EDITORIAL: Central Falls - Let’s Merge It
- EXCLUSIVE: Central Falls School ‘Whistleblower’ Punished
- EXCLUSIVE: Felon Serving on Central Falls School Board
- EXCLUSIVE: Fired Providence Teacher Hired in Central Falls
- Gallo—Teachers Blocking Transformation of Central Falls High
- Gist: Reform at Central Falls Now Can Move at ‘Light Speed’
- Gist—State Will Review Criminal Record of Central Falls Trustee
- GoLocalProv Uncovers ‘Pay to Play’ in Central Falls
- Is It Time to Abolish the City of Central Falls?
- NEW: Central Falls Receiver: Merge City with Pawtucket
- NEW: Central Falls School Board Chair Defends Superintendent
- NEW: Central Falls Superintendent Speaks Out on Teacher Assault
- NEW: Central Falls – No Explanation for MIA Administrators
- NEW: Chafee—‘Running out of Time’ to Fix Central Falls Budget
- Over 100 Central Falls Teachers Face Layoffs
- Senator Calls for Forensic Audit of Central Falls Schools
- Should Central Falls Be Merged?
- Should Central Falls be merged?
- Three Central Falls School Administrators Missing in Action
- UPDATED: Chafee, General Assembly Leaders Weigh in on Central Falls
- UPDATED: Flanders Leaves Board of Regents to be Central Falls Receiver
- Violence on the Rise at Central Falls Schools
Enjoy this post? Share it with others.
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.