by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
As you may have heard, the head of the Indianapolis Education Association had to step down over allegations of misappropriating more than $100,000.
WISH-TV and WIBC have both reported a complaint was filed in June of 2018 with the Indiana State Teachers Association over the concerns of operations with the Indianapolis Education Association. An internal investigation led officials to mismanagement and misappropriation of over $100,000 in funds by IEA president Rhondalyn Cornett (her Facebook page is gone by the way).
The mishandling of funds reportedly spanned over several years.
Cornett’s resignation was effective November 8 after complying with demands from the association to step down.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is aware of Cornett’s actions after they were informed by ISTA. It is not yet known if she will face any charges.
Newly elected IEA President Ronald Swann will assume the position in the interim.
Pardon me if I have a few questions, and not just the obvious one as to why did all this happen after the school board election, where the Association backed three candidates, two of which won?
Here they are.
- What exact date was ISTA made aware of the allegations involving Ms. Cornett?
- If the allegations of misconduct were reported to ISTA in June, why was Ms. Cornett not immediately placed on leave pending an investigation?
- During the investigation, did Ms. Cornett continue to have access to IEA funds?
- Were IEA members notified of the allegations immediately upon ISTA receiving the complaint in June? If not, why not?
- If the allegations of misconduct were reported to ISTA in June, why were the results of ISTA’s “audit” released two days after the election? Does this present evidence of a cover-up?
- Were any funds misappropriated between June and November 8 while the allegations were being investigated?
- Were any misappropriated funds inappropriately used to finance IEA-endorsed political candidates, namely candidates for IPS school board?
- What was the process that IEA, under Ms. Cornett’s leadership, undertook when it endorsed school board candidates? Were IEA members given an opportunity to vote on the endorsement? If not, did Ms. Cornett, while under investigation, make the endorsement decisions unilaterally?
- Did the IPS Community Coalition know about the allegations prior to them becoming public on November 10? If so, when? If not, will the Coalition distance itself from the IEA while its former leader is under criminal investigation?
- Did any IEA-endorsed candidates know of the allegations? If so, when? Did they accept donations from a PAC associated with ISTA while knowledgeable of the alleged misconduct?
- If IEA-endorsed candidates just now heard about the allegations, will they return the ISTA-affiliated donations and renounce the IEA’s endorsement?
- Is there evidence of any campaign finance violations?
- Will IEA members have access to a confidential way to report additional alleged misconduct by Ms. Cornett and other IEA leadership?
- Did Teresa Meredith’s recent decision to leave her role at ISTA have any relation to the allegations of Ms. Cornett’s alleged misappropriation of funds?
- Will ISTA comply with any applicable open record requests and commit to answering teachers’ questions and media inquiries with transparency, including providing documents related to the “audit” of ISTA finances?
I may have a few more later. I will let you know if I hear anything.
Abdul-Hakim is the editor and publisher of Indy Politics. His opinions are his own, but you are free to adopt them as your own.
Photo: Getty Images