The founder of one of the city’s largest charters schools falsified financial records and okayed illegal construction work while serving as its principal, according to a whistleblower suit filed by a former school exec.
Stacy Winitt, executive director of the New Heights Academy in upper Manhattan, allegedly justified her shady practices by claiming her school was “too small to get caught,” court papers charge.
Former COO Gene Fisch Jr. says he was fired after warning two members of the board of directors “that submitting false numbers to the government based on fabricated and forged documents amounted to misappropriation of funds and that ‘someone could go to jail.’”
New Heights, which has about 760 students in grades 5 through 12, budgeted $888,000 in federal grants and $11.7 million in state grants last year, according to its annual report.
Fisch’s Manhattan federal court suit seeks unspecified damages, including twice his lost wages, for retaliation and breach of contract.
Fisch says he uncovered “serious financial misconduct” after being hired by New Heights in July 2008, and refused to sign off on its annual audit because “the numbers used for the audit were not credible.”
He also says Winitt ordered demolition work inside the building at 1818 Amsterdam Ave. without a permit, “with the intention not only to deliberately violate the law, but to do so deceitfully.”...
New Heights Academy
“Fired exec: Charter-school chief fudged books.” New York Post (NY), 3/21/2012