Frank Demasi of 57 John Street in New Rochelle spoke exclusively with Talk of the Sound earlier today and admitted taking New Rochelle School District vans home at night. In response to our request for comment to our story yesterday, Carpenter's Late Night Use of School District Van Questioned, Demasi told Talk of the Sound that no one in the school district authorized him to take the vans home but since no one told him he could not take the vans home he did.
Sources have told Talk of the Sound that Demasi has been taking home school district vehicles for more than a decade. Talk of the Sound obtained photographs going back to 2007-2008 that school district vehicles have regularly been parked in front of Demasi's home in New Rochelle over the past two years.
Demasi said the vehicle he has been taking home recently, Van #60, is supposed to be kept at the high school.
Demasi also told Talk of the Sound that the school district sent out a letter to district employees informing them it was school district policy that district vehicles were not allowed to be taken home. If any readers have received a copy of this letter please send us a copy.
So far, the school district has declined to our requests for information or to respond to questions. Most likely, the District will either try to ignore the issue and hope it goes away or tell their "spun" version of the story to the Journal News.
Talk of the Sound sent questions to Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, Assistant Superintendent for Finance John Quinn and School Board President Cindy Babcock-Deutsch seeking comment. As it is the policy of the District to pretend this site does not exist let me share with you here the questions we believe the public is entitled to have answered:
1. Mr. Demasi admitted during our interview that he has been taking home district vehicles. Can you comment on this?
2. Mr. Demasi says no one ever told him he could not take vehicles home. Does the district have a policy on using school district vehicles for personal use or taking vehicles home at night or the weekend? What IS the district's policy in this regard?
3. What sort of system is in place to keep track of school district vehicles? Do you intend to review that system and make changes? Demasi says this vehicle was a van that was supposed to be at the high school. How can a vehicle disappear from the school night after night and no one know about it? Will you consider revising the system in light of our story on Mr. Demasi? Do you intend to investigate who knew or should have known this vehicle was not where it was supposed to be after school hours?
4. Mr. Demasi says he received a letter which he believes was sent to all school district employees about the use of district vehicles. Is there such a letter? Can I have a copy? Was the letter a reminder of an existing policy or to inform employees of a new policy.
5. Talk of the Sound has photographs going back two years. Our sources who, given Mr. Demasi's admission, we believe to be entirely reliable have told us that Demasi has been taking home district vehicles as a matter of routine going back a decade or more. Also, there is an issue with lumber and the use of school equipment. Care to comment on that?
6. Misappropriation of school property is a criminal act. Do you intend to file charges against Mr. Demasi and anyone else who might have been involved?
7. The vehicle observed in front of Mr. Demasi's house is Van #60 and is marked as a commercial vehicle. Does the use of a commercial vehicle as a personal vehicle raise any issues with the Department of Motor Vehicles or the district's insurance company? Who IS the district's insurance company and do you intend to notify them of what appears to be the misappropriation of the vehcile for personal use?
8. Our sources tell us that Mr. Demasi does not own a vehicle but has, for many years, used district vehicles as his personal vehicle. On behalf of the taxpayers who fund the school district do you intend to seek reimbursement for the use of the vehicle, oil & gas, servicing, the cost to insure the vehicle?
9. I know the district's standard response is a bunch of hogwash about this is a "private" or "personnel" matter and that the district will hide behind these claims to avoid commenting publicly on what you will seek to characterize as an internal disciplinary issue but this case does appear to warrant consideration for investigation as a felony criminal matter involving misappropriation of the vehicle, theft of fuel, insurance fraud, etc. That is clearly a public matter. In that light, will you comment on Mr. Demasi's current job status with the district and whether any sort of disciplinary proceedings are anticipated, are in process or have already taken place?