A parent who accused Buffalo Public School officials of forging her signature on documents submitted to the state this year now says in an affidavit that her signature was forged in four additional instances last year, as well.
And when the woman – a teacher’s aide at Harvey Austin School who has children in the Buffalo schools – raised the matter recently with the principal, she said, she felt her job was threatened. The woman, a volunteer parent facilitator at the school since 2010, was hired last May as a teacher’s aide.
The latest accusations pertain to Title I spending plans for the 2012-13 academic year, including signatures validating cash disbursements and other expenditures.
According to Timekia Jones’ affidavit, after reviewing school documents she discovered that her signature had been forged “on four instances.”
She said she raised the issue last Friday with the principal of the school, who wanted her to sign a document saying she had forgotten that she gave the principal permission to sign her name. When Jones refused, she felt her future with the district was in jeopardy.
The principal told me, “almost as a threat, that if she gets arrested then I would have to be transferred out of the school, impacting my job and my kids continued presence at the school,” she wrote in the affidavit.
On Monday, she met with the principal, other administrators and district attorneys before the principal’s attorney and union representative joined the meeting.
Samuel L. Radford III, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, said Jones – who could not be reached to comment – asked him to attend the meeting, too, but district officials would not allow him in.
Afterwards, Jones told him what happened, saying the principal admitted there was no misunderstanding on her part about the forgery allegations.
Superintendent Pamela Brown said Tuesday that while the district doesn’t comment on personnel matters, she has ordered an investigation and the district will take “appropriate action.”
“Once we determine whether or not these allegations are true, there will be a number of options that we can use as it relates to appropriate discipline,” Brown said, without elaborating.
The parent council will file another complaint with state education officials on the woman’s behalf this week about the additional four signatures and will ask the state to investigate the validity of all plans submitted by the district. Those plans are supposed to have the input of parents who sign off on them.
The parent council filed the original complaint with the state earlier this month, alleging school administrators forged the parent’s signature in an attempt to claim that she had participated in the development of the School Comprehensive Education Plan, a road map to improving student learning.
On the date when she supposedly signed the plan, the parent was in the hospital.
District officials found that incident to be a “misunderstanding.”
Nevertheless, state officials said there was a “lack of evidence” of parent involvement in all of the district’s improvement plans and demanded written proof from the district. State officials are reviewing that data.
Meanwhile, the parent council says it found more incidents of questionable signatures.
Six separate schools, for instance, submitted documentation representing parent involvement when, in fact, there wasn’t any, Radford said.
On one districtwide document, the signatures of two parents were included on the plan that the parents never had anything to do with, Radford said, alleging that district officials misrepresented to parents what they were signing.
“They went to a strategic planning meeting and signed” an attendance sheet for that, he said, “but the document they signed was included in a different plan as saying the parents were a part of that planning process.”
The parents’ group has said 34 of the 56 individual school plans submitted to the state Education Department did not include parent signatures.