Marilyn Taylor, the principal at Dunbar Elementary School, has been apprehended on the count of pilfering thousands of dollars from the school fundraising account. City officials accused the principal of gambling over $10,000 from the account at the Mohegan Sun casino.
The 46 year old principal turned herself in to Bridgeport police on December 19th and was released after posting $20,000 in bond money. The matter of her employment is currently being discussed by school officials, writes Nicholas Rondinone of Hartford Courant.
The investigation was initiated when an audit by the city’s board of education detected anomalies in the school’s fundraising account. Bridgeport police Det. Frank Podpolucha, who headed the investigation, said that the account had been tapped in November 2013 and over 24 cash withdrawals were made at the casino. Some of the funds were also withdrawn for the Johnny Rockets restaurant and at supermarkets and other stores located near Taylor’s Milford home.
Bridgeport authorities state that no students were recorded visiting the casino. City spokesman Brett Broesder has stressed the urgency of bringing the matter to proper justice.
“We’re working diligently to make sure justice is served. 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.”
Taylor, who has been on administrative leave since November 10th, hails from the Baton Rouge, La. Her annual salary was at $125,212, writes Linda Connor Lambeck of CTPost.
According to the arrest warrant, Taylor drew suspicion when Assistant Principal Alyshia Perrin saw her paying vendors in cash instead of check. Her former landlord, Doug Knapp, also realized that she had a gambling problem when he spotted her receiving daily flyers and coupons from casinos.
Bridgeport School Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz claims that the stolen money was detected by business officials and auditors in late October. He expressed his disappointment at the news and assured that Taylor would not be returning to her old job.
“It makes it very difficult because she was very well-liked by the parents and students, and very well-respected by the parents and the community.”
However, he has stated that the school has been able to maintain control in her absence.
“I am hearing good things from the teachers and from the community and the statistics look good. Suspensions are down.”
A letter was sent to staff and parents explaining the irregularities in student activity funds as well as Taylor’s investigation. Bobbie Jean Smith, a Dunbar grandparent, defined her actions as insensitive to the children and parents.
“She’s not thinking about the children, we already have problems in Bridgeport with the education.”
Taylor’s Ridgefield lawyer, Edward W. Vioni, continues to defend his client’s actions, claiming that she never intended to steal the money and would attempt to repair the account.
“Until this, Marilyn Taylor had never been arrested, or accused of any criminal activity in her life. I can say unequivocally that Ms. Taylor never intended to steal from the school’s fundraising account. Throughout this personally trying time she is doing all that she can so that focus can return to making Dunbar Elementary a great place for children to learn.”