School of Silence: Thousands of dollars in misused funds end up in wrong hands at Medgar Evers College
Medgar Evers College is a public school named after a civil rights activist and the goal is to foster equality in education. But thousands of dollars in misused funds ended up in the wrong hands, getting in the way of quality education for many students of color.
While the world fights off the coronavirus, stories of abuse of power and financial mismanagement tell the tale of a virus within the walls of a school named for an American civil rights activist.
The man at the top is President Rudolf Crew. He was appointed in 2013 and known for his "pipeline initiative," a funnel program to connect students K-12 to a college education.
"If Black Lives Matters means anything, it means that we provide educational opportunities for the African American population of the city, and this administration doesn't give a damn about that," said Barry Lituchy, adjunct assistant professor at Medgar Evers College.
Crew has been criticized for looking for a new job, applying and losing the superintendent position at Dekalb County Schools and coming back to Brooklyn for one more year.
Mohammad Riyad was busy during his time at the CUNY school. His involvement in student government granted him a foothold into administration, but he says when he tried to question those connections, mysterious money showed up at the bursar's office with his name on it.
"The students have real power. You cannot, you cannot pay a single dollar to anyone without asking the student body, because that's our money," he said.
The first red flag came when he applied for a student grant.
"I applied for it, I was approved for it and never received anything," said Riyad.
When he started asking questions, Riyad said the checks starting coming.
Records from the bursar's office indicate four positions Riyad had been appointed too though he said he never applied, nor was he -- a math student -- qualified for them.
One job salary was for over $74,000.
By 2018, if he had accepted each position, records show he would have been making almost $157,000 for jobs he said he never held.
Medgar Evers College denied allegations of drastic money mismanagement and called the claims defamatory, baseless and untrue.
Students and staff like Riyad say that that money could have been better spent on resources to bring up graduation rates. The latest CUNY data says only 2.7% of students who entered in 2014 graduated in 2018.
The alleged payments Riyad received happened on the heels of a 2016 New York state comptroller's investigation, which revealed 14 bank accounts that went undisclosed to CUNY and $118,000 of unsupported payments, $32,000 of which was used to furnish the president's CUNY-owned residence.
Medgar Evers only partially followed through on the state's recommendations, like developing a web-based process to keep track of its accounting policies, but not documenting it had actually implemented a new system.
A letter from the college later revealed that the goal -- or website -- was completed though bank account information was never made public record. Since then, the college has passed annual financial audits.
The administration declined News 12's multiple requests for interviews. News 12 also asked for employee records, which they would not give citing confidentiality agreements.