Saturday, June 30, 2007

108. Sad and Angry

This TribuneStory makes me so sad and mad.

Sad that Doreen Tudela abused her position. Sad that she forgot how important it is to keep personal and professional separated. Sad that our kids, who deserve the best, had a principal who made a big mistake. I'm glad she's paid back what she took, and admitted what she did. I don't doubt that she's used her own money for school things a lot and never kept track, but that isn't an excuse, either. It's just a shame, and it will be hard on the students who must now process that their principal, whom they respected and relied upon, has let them down.

But I'm also mad at the underlying story. That Barney's Pizza pays to put pizza into the schools. We already have an obesity and diabetes problem in the CNMI. We don't need our kids eating junk food like greasy pizza. And Barney's paying to feed it to them is a double corruption.

I'm disgusted.


Anonymous said...

What is more SAD is that PSS Principals have to find ways of making money for their school, and YES, selling Pizza is not the best way, but with lack of funding for schools to put gas in their vans, lawn mowers, repair classrooms, etc; where are they suppose to get the money? They accept contracts from Barney's and other's like them to fund these needs. It is sad that she abused her posistion as Principal. NOW the question is will PSS ALLOW a person responsible for millions of dollars in FEDERAL Special Education Moeny to remain in her position. Lets see. If you have a police record don't you fall into the non renewal catagory??? This has happened to others, lets wait and see.

Saipan Writer said...

I agree it's also sad that the public school principals need to do fund-raising. Well, it makes me sad, and angry!

Mike said...

She did not pay back the money. The two checks, she issued as restitution, bounced. There is a standard five year bar on re-employment with the government. However, because this was an investigation of the Office of the Public Auditor and the Attorney General's White Collar/Government Corruption Unit there will be a ten year bar. Salutations and respect to all the generous and dedicated Teachers and Principals who give to their students. They are not praised enough. This one bad apple should not distract us from honoring the ones who so richly deserve it.

Saipan Writer said...

Thanks for the clarification, Mike.

I was also thinking more about the issue of individual schools doing fundraising. I assumed it was necessary in my earlier comment, but is it really? I mean really "necessary." I'm sure it helps, but for example, this money was stolen and not used by the students. It would have helped--with student activites, etc.

But necessary?

We want quality education. We want enough classrooms in good repair for all students in uncrowded classes, up-to-date text books in sufficient quantities for all students, a modern library, science equipment. And of course, we want good teachers, teachers who earn a decent wage. Do we have that?

If not, why not?

Mike said...

You're absolutely right. Teachers and Administrators should be free from the burden of fundraising for essential services and materials. They should be allowed to focus their efforts on their students. They are already heavily laden, outside of their job descriptions, by functioning as surrogate parents for those children who have no other authority figure guidance. Unfortunately education does not appear to be the priority that it should. The CNMI is not unique in this regard. I knew teachers in California who made regular Costco runs to stock the school lavatories with toilet paper and paper towels, in addition to classroom materials. Our greatest investments should be in eduction and health care for everyone, not just the wealthy. Good education and healthcare programs reduce crime and provide foundations for social and material advancement. Until society properly assumes its responsibility the Teachers, Prinicpals, parents and concerned citizens will have to make do by their own efforts.

BoReGo said...

I have been quiet about this because I too am sad. Doreen was trusted and well liked. I can honestly say that I still like her very much, and feel, as Glen said, bewildered. Nevertheless, it was a breach of the trust we are given, rightfully or not. I agree with both of you that we are so laden with things like fundraising that we are not able to meet the needs of our schools. It's all about vision and whether or not the entire CNMI, not just the PSS is moving in the same direction.

If I learned one thing from observing other administrators before me and from my own upbringing, it is that trust, once earned must be maintained. Our students rely on us to be their voices and provide even the most basic needs as toilet paper. The money taken is one thing, especially in light of our financial condition. The trust stolen is another completely.

I believe Doreen when she says she is remorseful. I guess the best thing I can do now is to support (not defend, not make excuses for) a colleague who is wounded by her own decisions and to try and reclaim the trust of our community in regards to the honor of the public school system and it's administrators. I hope I've made some sense here.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

I don't know the woman, but was aghast that someone who worked as in a position, not just of trust, but of supposed uncomromised integrity and as the premier moral example to her entire student body, would act in such a fashion.

What will the lesson be? What will impressionable students make of all this? If the principal can do it so can I? I could do a better job, I won't get caught? Or, hopefully: Even the mighty can make mistakes. I must be careful not to make that one myself. I must be watchful for greed or abuse of power creeping up on my blind side?

Has anyone spoken to these children and young adults? Would the correct person to do so be Ms Tudela, or someone else?

One last note. I noticed that Ms Tudela was described as an ex Principal and it was only mentioned in passing that she is now (or was) a high level PSS administrator only a level or two down from the Superintendant. I'm wondering what the effect on morale inside those offices must be about now.

Saipan Writer said...

I think part of the problem is that it was too easy to take the money. I do think we need to guard against temptation, and requiring two signatures, having reporting procedures, etc. are all designed to help us maintain our integrity.

I also think we need to be more careful about the little corruptions, because they lead to bigger ones.

Anonymous said...

Doreen will be found innocent. These payments represent proper reimbursements for school expenses she made out of her own pocket. Its a shame that she obviously has jealous enemies who are willing to twist the truth, destroy records, etc. just to take down one of the brightest young people to some out of Saipan.

Anonymous said...

What's more sad is that PSS continues to employee Doreen. She is still working (she has not even been suspended) and still in contol of federal funds. As the last writer believes, she may indeed be found innocent, afterall, she has family ties to the Mayor. She has admitted guilt in the paper but pled innocent to the charges. Whatever happens, it will not change the hardship her actions caused during the few years she was principal at Kagman. Students went without books, class materials, caps and gowns at graduation, and even toilet paper in the restrooms. Thankfully things are very much improved with the new principal.

Anonymous said...

If you read the paper carefully, Doreen did not admit to anything except that she requested and received reimbursements for school expenses she had paid for out of her personal funds. The newspaper reporting was erroneous and the writers are incompetent. They don't check their facts and statements. Doreen will be found innocent.

Saipan Writer said...

I can believe that the news reports aren't accurate. But no one can say with certainty that Doreen Tudela will be found not guilty. You just can't know that, anon.

Obviously, you believe in Doreen's innocence. I'm not so sure. The auditor's report apparently indicates that she admitted to using the money. And our auditor has been very good.

I'm not sure what the talk about "jealous elements" is all about, but it sounds foolish to me. No one is jealous. We are all heart-broken. We want to see our teachers and principals succeed. We want the best.

And unfortunately, whether she is eventually found not guilty or convicted, Doreen has brought a cloud over her work and her service to PSS and the students of the CNMI. She did it herself--not "jealous elements"--and it just is sad. Because she is talented. And we needed her talent, without the "loose accounting."

Anonymous said...

You are an idiot and your blog is a joke.

Saipan Writer said...

Anon, August 2, 2007--You're entitled to your opinion.

This particular discussion is one of the better ones on my blog. I'm happy to have the comments and views from differing perspectives. It's odd you would chose this thread to express your disdain.

Diogenes said...

Most of the time when a person is caught stealing or otherwise engaged in criminal conduct, it merely represents only one example of the individual's history as a malefactor. Doreen got caught for this one, but what were the precedent steps which emboldened her?

Anonymous said...

Its sad that you are assuming Doreen is guilty of other things. How about this theory? Her husband, who is a scum-bag, has been fooling around on Doreen behind her back ever since they were married. Doreen kicks out her husband 2 years ago because enough is enough. Her husband will not grant her a divorce even though she is the one who is supporting their kids, etc. and pays all the bills. He hatches this plan to discredit Doreen. Happens that the bookkeeper at Kagman High school was a co-worker of his for a private company on Saipan before they both got fired for misconduct. So they hatch this plot to discredit Doreen by falsifying records and implicating Doreen in this so-called theft. What is amazing is that the public auditor's investigation was incompetent and they violated Doreen's civil rights. They do not have any evidence against her except this so-called confession which if you read it carefully all it states is that Doreen requested and received reimbursements. There is no admission of guilt anyway. The press and the judge are both corrupt and they twisted this signed statement, which was obtained under duress. Doreen did not steal anything but had been receiving reimbursements for school expenses she had paid for out of her own pockets. Even the attorney general wanted to drop this case but he damn judge is an asshole and he wanted to make Doreen his trophy case to scare everyone in Saipan. What a fucker. And worse yet, your third-world cess pool of a commonwealth does not even give people their due process allowed by law so the judge can do anything he wants. Doreen paid back the money because she wanted to give the courts her copies of the reimbursements but the judge was so afraid of losing his trophy conviction he did not allow the merits of Doreen's case be heard. The judge ran over the attorney general and Doreen's lawyer, which is a judicial misconduct and he should be disbarred. Why do you people on Saipan allow this to go on? Its a damn shame that the innocent like Doreen who have made a difference for bettering her homeland are made to suffer for the evil intentions of others. If you consider yourself a seeker of the truth and a decent human being who would go and find out the real story except creating a forum where people can bash the innocent.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what has been said above by other anonymous writers regarding Doreen M. Tudela. Those of us who know Doreen and her family are confident that the legal system will recognize her as innocent and the community will publicly apologize for the wrongs done against her. There are stories circulating around the island about how corrupt the Public School system is. Some of these stories include how the board of education spent over $200,000 on personal travel and had that amount written off the books. Gee, Mr. Public Auditor, don't you think you should get off your ass and check that out??? Oh, and how about this one: The wife of the head of your PSS took $25,000 from the school system, and never got prosecuted or anything. Whats up with that??? Oh, I suppose the judge is so busy smoking pot he did not see through the haze. So Doreen is just an convenient scapegoat to draw attention away from the real wrong-doers. She is not politically or socially connected enough I suppose. She was just too busy doing her job making things better in your school system. Oh, the kids did have graduation gowns and there was no money in the school account? No problem, Doreen would purchase them out of her own pocket and get reimbursed from the pizza money. Too bad the school bookkeeper conveniently "lost" the records, even though your school system internal auditor gave Doreen's high school a clean report. Anyway, this story is not finished, and I predict that the real wrong-doers will have to answer to higher powers than your corrupt judge.

Saipan Writer said...

To the latest anons:

Doreen admitted her guilt--both in the public auditor's report that was included in the original article about which I blogged, and in court proceedings on the criminal charges. Saipan Tribune reports on guilty plea.

She was a good principal who made a big mistake. She's admitted it. She's taken action to make amends.

I never assumed she was guilty of anything else. I was sad and angry at both the story of her theft and the situation that led to it.

Both of you make reckless and foolish allegations that speak of your own lack of information and good judgment. The press is corrupt? In what way? What evidence do you have of that? They reported a story, and go the essential facts correct--what was in the auditor's report, the later filing of criminal charges, and the later conviction on a guilty plea.

The public auditor is incompetent and violated Doreen's civil rights. What evidence is there of that? Neither Doreen nor her counsel filed any civil rights complaint against the public auditor. Doreen's later actions in again admitting guilt make it clear the public auditor did not make a mistake.

Doreen's husband is a bad guy and set her up, with the help of the school bookkeeper. I wouldn't know--but what evidence is there of that? Why would Doreen plead guilty and not show up this scheme, if it existed?

The judge is corrupt, forced the AG to proceed when they wanted to drop the case, smokes pot, had it in for Doreen, is covering up other wrong-doing. What evidence is there of any of that? The judge was David Wiseman. He specifically found that there were reasons to be lenient to Doreen because of her past contributions to the community, her admission of guilt and desire to make things right.

The CNMI is a cess-pool and has no due process. It may be easy to bash the CNMI, but at least get your facts straight. The U.S. Constitution applies here, as does the CNMI Constitution. We have the due process clause and equal protection, among other rights. Our criminal procedures include the right to notice of criminal charges against you (which Doreen got), the right to counsel (which Doreen had), the right to trial--by jury for certain offenses--along with the right to call witnesses, confront and cross-examine witnesses against you, etc. (all of which Doreen waived after being fully informed and represented by an attorney and instead she pleaded guilty). Whatever problems the CNMI has, and it has its fair share, the Courts generally work well, and due process is accorded as best as any human system can provide.

Anon's allege many other problems--like the board of ed spending $200,000 on personal travel, and the wife of the "head" of PSS getting money and not being prosecuted. They note that the school system is riddled with financial problems--especially lack of funds. This last allegation is certainly true and distressing. Doreen is not the only teacher or principal to use personal funds for classroom needs--in fact, every teacher I know has done this. But none reimburse themselves from funds not intended for that purpose. I don't know if there's any evidence whether either of the other two allegations are true. If there is, then certainly we want the public auditor and our AGO to look into these for potential criminal violations.

But reckless charges, nasty recriminations, and lame excuses aren't going to help Doreen. She's taken the steps she needed to take, and I feel much better about her than I do about her foolish supporters like you latest two anons who trash-talk everyone and everything you can in the hopes of making her look better.

One last note--the report is that she paid back the money she appropriated. This does not erase the crime. If a person steals, and when caught, pays back or returns what was stolen, there's still been a crime. Otherwise, we would only prosecute the poor who get caught and can't pay back what they took. Otherwise there would be no disincentive for stealing, because you could get out of it just by returning what you took.

I respect Doreen Tudela--she made a mistake and has taken the responsibility of owning it, and making amends. That speaks very highly of her integrity. Each of us makes mistakes. She's done a great job teaching how to act when you do make a mistake.

Too bad the latest anons aren't getting the message.

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Saipan Writer said...

COMMENTS on this post are now closed. I have deleted the most recent three comments, which are redundant to what you anon's have already posted. All future comments will be deleted.

Doreen plead guilty.

You can bash all you want, but your lies do not further justice. Your anonymous blather does warrant reading by anyone.