Photo: Schools superintendent Bernard Pierorazio has still yet to say whether he will retire by Feb. 16, as announced by Mayor Mike Spano in January. (David McKay Wilson/The Journal News)
The fallout in Yonkers over the $55-million mistake in two recent budgets continues, with the retirement Tuesday of Chief Administrative Officer Joseph Brachitta. Tax Watch learned of Brachitta’s departure from one of our loyal readers, who noticed on Wednesday at Brachitta’s name had vanished from the school district’s website.
But there’s still no confirmation that schools Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio will retire by Feb. 16, as announced by Mayor Mike Spano on Jan. 17 when the financial troubles at the state’s fourth-largest school district were made public.
Brachitta’s hasty departure came just five days after Yonkers Inspector General Brendan McGrath announced his investigation into the missing $55 million. City Hall insiders tell Tax Watch that McGrath issued subpoenas for school districts documents soon after he announced his investigation on Jan. 30.
“He left awfully quickly, just when the district needed him most,” said Mayor Mike Spano. “He was clearly the guy with so much of the information. And that might hamper the city’s ability to get information. But it’s not impossible. I’m glad the IG is looking into the matter. We need to get to the bottom of what happened so it doesn’t happen again.”
Brachitta, whose office oversaw the budgeting process, has served in that position since 2006, after spending 12 years as assistant dean of finance and administration at Pace University Law School in White Plains. Brachitta was the driving force in the development of the P3 public-private partnership plan to bring private investment to rehabilitate the school district’s aging buildings. But that plan failed to gain traction, after a blue ribbon panel appointed by Spano, which was headed by former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky and former state Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, raised serious questions about the plan’s financial projections.
While Brachitta has retired, the status of Pierorazio remains cloudy. On Jan. 17, Spano announced that Pierorazio’s retirement would be effective on Feb. 16.
But Pierorazio reports to the Yonkers Board of Education, not the mayor. Since Spano’s announcement, Pierorazio has declined to speak on whether he will submit his retirement papers. In July, 2012, Pierorazio inked a four-year contract, through 2017, paying him $260,000 a year.
Spano said he has not heard from Pierorazio about any change in plans. He noted that Pierorazio had contract obligations with the school district that needed to be worked out.
“Hopefully that will be done in short order,” Spano said.
Parents, meanwhile, have urged the popular schools chief to at least finish out the 2013-14 school year. The departure of both Brachitta and Pierorazio could spell troubles in the upcoming budget preparation.
On Thursday, schools spokeswoman Maura Lamoureaux said Pierorazio would not be available for comment.
“There is no comment at this time regarding the status of the Superintendent’s employment,” she wrote in an email message.