BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – A Connecticut grade school principal faces felony larceny charges after she allegedly swindled student activity funds from the school and wasted the money at casinos.
Dunbar School Principal Marilyn Taylor, 46, turned herself in to police Friday after learning there was a warrant for her arrest after an audit allegedly revealed she made 24 cash withdrawals totaling $10,021.40 from a school fundraising account at the Mohegan Sun Casino between Nov. 4 and Nov. 29, 2013, CTPost.com reports.
Authorities allege the audit also showed Taylor used the account for $11.43 at Johnny Rockets restaurant, as well as other money from the account at a casino near her Mississippi home, and purchases at Walmart, Dunkin Donuts, Home Depot and a gas station, according to the news site.
“Marilyn Taylor will not be returning to work as a principal in Bridgeport; I don’t want to say more at this point,” Interim Superintendent of Schools Fran Rabinowitz said. “I am not saying we are terminating her, but I am not waiting.”
Taylor, who takes home a $125,212 annual salary, was hired to help turn around Dunbar School – one of the worst in the state – for the 2013-14 school year. In October 2013, Taylor gained permission to open an account for Jumoke Academy at Dunbar School for student fundraising. Assistant Principal Alyshia Perrin alerted school officials to possibly nefarious activities when she realized a month later that Taylor was allegedly paying vendors in cash, CTPost.com reports.
An audit ordered by the school board exposed Taylor’s spending, which overdrew the account three different times, in December 2013, as well as January and June 2014, according to the news site.
“We’re working diligently to make sure justice is served,” city spokesperson Brett Broesder told Fox. “And, our top priority is to ensure that kids at Dunbar School – and kids in schools all across the city – are safe, secure, and learning in an environment that is preparing them to one day compete for 21st century jobs.”
“When initially confronted with her numerous withdrawals from the account, Taylor asked the city’s payroll supervisor if she could get her paycheck early, according to court documents” cited by CTPost.com.
Taylor was hired by Michael Sharpe, director of the charter school management group Family Schools for Urban Excellence. Sharpe was fired last summer when district officials he learned he lied about his academic credentials and criminal past.
Taylor was previously working to turn around failing schools in Baton Rouge, La., according to the news site.
District Parent Advisory Council President Tammy Boyle was disgusted that Taylor would steal from low-income students in a struggling school.
“This is what happens when we allow disreputable people like the fake ‘Dr.’ Sharpe and Family Urban Schools of Excellence … to make crucial decisions about true public schools and our children,” she told CTPost.com.
School board chairman Dave Hennessey told the media the board hasn’t yet addressed Taylor’s arrest but is expected to discuss it after the holiday break.
Assistant Principal Perrin and retired Principal Veronica Thomas will take over Taylor’s duties.
Taylor is suspended with pay pending the outcome of her criminal case, Fox reports.