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Parent coordinator axed for tax-exempt purchase

A parent coordinator was fired after she used city tax forms to make tax-free purchases that totaled $37.05, according to a report from a city ethics agency.

Maria Torres, who was parent coordinator at Mosaic Preparatory Academy in East Harlem for nearly a decade, was terminated by the Department of Education in July as a result of the infraction, according to the Conflicts of Interest Board, which released a deposition of the case on Thursday. Using city tax-exempt forms for personal use is a violation of ethics laws that prohibit the use of city resources for non-city purposes.

A department spokesman said that she was fired this summer as a result of a city investigation.

The board deposition says that Torres admitted to using the forms on personal purchases worth $37.05 for “my daughters-in-law.” But in an interview, Torres said that her firing was the result of a misunderstanding.

The incident stemmed from an altercation that escalated with a cashier and manager at a local “Family Dollar” store, said Torres.

“It became a situation that got out of hand,” Torres said. “It got ugly.”

Torres was there to buy supplies for a school store available to students, she said. But she said that the cashier used the exempt forms for another purchase that she had intended to pay regular taxes on.

“I think the punishment was severely harsh,” said Torres.

Parent coordinators, which are part of the Local 372 school employees union, do not have job protections that allow them to appeal terminations.

Conflict of Interest Board: Parent Coordinator used tax-exempt forms for personal use by GothamSchools.org

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