Feds investigate Mount Vernon City School District, superintendent for possible misuse of grant money

School officials confirmed records associated with federal grant money have been subpoenaed.

News 12 Staff

Feb 10, 2023, 5:36 PM

Updated 469 days ago

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The Mount Vernon City School District and its superintendent are the subject of a federal investigation.
School officials confirm it surrounds the district's use of federal grant money, but they didn't go into any further details.
What News 12 has learned is that the investigation comes after some residents started asking questions.
A federal investigation into the alleged misuse of federal grant funds by the Mount Vernon City School District is what residents like Jesse Van Lew, of Save Mount Vernon, have been advocating for.
"It's about time people of Mount Vernon stop putting their heads in the sand and looking the other way," says Van Lew. 
He and a group of residents raised concerns back in October after a Mount Vernon resident did some digging.
Van Lew uncovered $8.5 million was paid to Wellcore/Just Inspire, a company headed by Superintendent Waveline Conroy Bennett's son.
The funds were paid over a seven-year period, seemingly without evidence that requests for proposals, a common practice by school districts, were ever made.
"You have an $8 million grant, why aren't you bidding out and why aren't bidding out and why did it go to her son? We have a right to ask those questions," says Lauren P. Raysor, of Save Mount Vernon.
On Friday, school officials confirmed that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of New York subpoenaed records associated with federal grant money.
"This is about kids, this is about children. You know you take money away from them, you don't have programs for them and then you wonder why they end up in the street the way the end up, so we have to fight and fight hard," says Raysor. 
In November, Mount Vernon's Board of Education hired an outside consultant to conduct an audit of the district use of grant funds.
District officials released a statement that says in part: "The Board of Education is supportive of this civil investigation and will fully cooperate with the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"District officials say once the independent audit is complete, they will release the results to the public.  


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