Wellness Center Director Walks Away
Faked Registration as Dietician; Tufts Degree Also In Question
By Josh Resnek
The head of the city’s troubled Wellness Center and the chief architect of the mayor’s effort to award the city school’s $5.1 million food contract to a new vendor, has resigned or was fired by the mayor.
It was one or the other or a bit of both, according to city hall sources who wished remain unnamed.
Councilor Mike McLaughlin said Karen Avila (above) should be fired immediately when he heard the charges leveled against her early on Tuesday, as reported by the Leader Herald on its Facebook site.
“She should have been fired instead of being allowed to resign,” McLaughlin told the Leader Herald.
“Personal relationships should not be allowed to get in the way of the duty we have to protect and to serve our residents,” he added.
Avila’s leadership of the Wellness Center had gained notoriety recently because of reports that at least two former employees of the Wellness Center had claimed they were bullied and harassed by the leadership of the center.
Also, Avila’s work record was suspect with claims by Wellness Center visitors that she was never there at her job.
The mayor, the assistant city solicitor, several councilors and two local newspapers ridiculed the reports as “fake news.”
Avila’s resignation came early in the afternoon Tuesday.
Not only was she not a registered dietician as she claimed on her resume and her city e-mail, but officials here said her claims to be a graduate of Tufts were suspect.
Her resume apparently indicated she was a graduate of Tufts with a degree in nutrition, said a source.
Efforts to ascertain whether she received a degree from Tufts were unsuccessful.
Ms. Avila could face a stiff fine or imprisonment, or both, for listing herself as a registered dietician when she is not, this, according to Section 209 of the Massachusetts General Laws. unlicensed practice as a dietician or nutritionist is a criminal liability according to Massachusetts state law.
Also, the city salary Avila has received since August is likely in jeopardy.
She is reported to make about $90,000 a year.
Part 2 of Section 209 of the General laws indicates anyone receiving money while not registered is liable to a fine of not less than the sum of the money received and not more than three times that sum of money.