Fish on a Leash: Reeling in the Backstory of the Most Extraordinary Theft in American Educational History tells the story of the 2004 Roslyn School District’s scandal from an insider’s viewpoint. I would like to invite those of you, whose paths have crossed with mine in my near and far flung travels, and who have expressed an avid interest in the story to join me in an ongoing discussion of ethics, financial fraud and the American educational system. I look forward to sharing a vibrantly colorful dialogue.
The story unfolds chronologically from the initial February 2004 public disclosure through the 2006 sentencings of six felons. A whistle-blower’s letter led county and state investigators to the schoolhouse steps. $11.3 million plus had been embezzled from one of Long Island’s most prestigious school districts into the pockets of six thieves and twenty-four others
who either worked within the system or who were related by blood or affinity to the thieves, but not directly involved in the stealing, benefited.
Four went to jail. One was given a sentence of five years’ probation, 100-hours of community service and a dollar-for-dollar payment of restitution. One got off with a light reprimand, three-years of community service.
The District’s Superintendent, Dr. Frank A. Tassone (a Dickens scholar) and the Assistant Superintendent of Business, Pamela C. Gluckin, were the ringleaders. The scandal devastated the community and compromised the high school’s national rankings. Every major American media outlet featured the story on their front pages for months. NBC news highlighted the scandal in their series the “Fleecing of America.” And the United States Department of Education’s Director of Fraud made us America’s poster child.
To this day my home is a miniature sized Grand Central station, even though my progeny have flown the coop. Knowing I needed to find a work space where I could both isolate myself and focus strictly on writing, yet, immerse myself in a vibrant artistic and musical community, I found myself traveling 1471 miles to the Southernmost Point in the United States, to Paradise —Key West. Immediately after settling in, I joined the Key West Writers Guild and found a home among a dedicated and demanding group of fellow writers.
Within days of my arrival, after I chatted up my book project with every and anyone I could, seeking out a response that would register distinctly from that of New Yorkers who had a familiarity with the scandal, thanks to years of intense media coverage, I was habitually told about the Key West School District’s scandal. It parroted the Roslyn scandal, with one difference. Neither the size, nor the scope of the theft was comparable. Although, the modus operandi was similar, the consequences for the crooks and the district were completely dissimilar. Florida and New York criminal laws are as disparate as is their respective topography. Punishment for illegal acts does not always fit the crime.
It became obvious that Roslyn was not, nor is not, the sole scandal occurring within the hallowed walls of our public and private educational institutions. Therefore, Fish on a Leash highlights several other scandals that rocked their school communities. Each unique, yet each universal.
Crime apparently does pay.
to be continued…
Copyright 2019 Judith D. Winters, content may not be used without express permission of the author
Drawing Attribution: School Of Fish Drawing
Cannot wait to read your book. But. I will!
MOOOOOOORE to come…drop into my travel writings while you are here…I will be shooting out more educational blogs as the weeks come by and of course my travel journal entries…thanks for dropping in…
Thanks, I enjoyed reading this. Glad you’re here in key West and that your writing is going well!
Thanks Ron looking forward to more adventures down here and writing inspiration. While you’re here take a look at the follow up blog The Incoming Tide and then under writings my travel journal might tickle your fancy. Thanks for dropping by…more to come.
I know the book going to be a big hit. I cannot wait for it to come out Judi.
Hi Beauty…there is a movie coming out in the Fall starring Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney and Ray Romano written by a kid who was in 8th grade at the time. But it is not the same story that I am telling or the story in which I was involved…its a kids perspective. Hpefully we will be able to get this off to the publishers and have it out in a timely fashion. Check in her often and I suspect you registered already so that as I post new blogs you will be receiving them…let other members of your family know and have them sign in as well. Peace be with you .
Judi Question – have you chatted or met with who Mike Makowsky , who wrote the script for the film , also do you know the release date for the film?
Does the film follow your book?
No release date as yet, just Fall and no I have not met him, but I was interviewed for one of the local newspapers when the movie started production.
And no the film is nothing like the book other than there were a theft committed by the superintendent and the assistant superintendent and a handful of others.
I know that you have put many hours into this book and can’t wait to read it since my mom had alot of interest in it! i’m sure the movie isn’t gonna top your book! I can careless about the movie especially since the only fact he has is probably just media.
Delighted to hear from you…there is big interest in the book. I am in Key West writing. You know I have dedicated the book to Maggie and I have many references to her throughout. I think you will like how I portray her. Here is a small section which closes the book:
All is well in the Roslyn School District community. Maggie’s gumshoes have fallen completely silent; she passed away in 2010; she is the unidentified and unsung heroine of this story. My Father’s Place, the legendary stronghold for contemporary music has returned after a twenty-year hiatus.
Little did I know years after the breaking of the scandal, I would be placing a Grand Jury parking pass on my dashboard in Field #7. In February 2018, sixteen years after stepping into the courtroom as a member of the gallery, I had been selected to serve. As my time as a grand juror drew to a close, so do the curtains of our story. Once the town crier, I have chosen to step back, living in relative obscurity, allowing the next generation to lead. A fish always out-of-water but never on a leash.
If you haven’t done so already please sign in under follow me from the website as a subscriber so that you will automatically be placed on the email listing every time I post something new….I am putting up the “outtakes” from the book. Hugs to the family. J
Can’t wait to read your book. Love your writing, it captures the soul.
Thanks Barb….I will posting more soon…Please let our other friends know about the site too. Make sure to check out the blog and the writing section. I’m still in KW…leave in a few weeks…maybe I can swing by and we can have a coffee…have to see my routing.