Mayor strips $471K from schools, Adrien, DiFlorio clash again

Councilors battle over EPS funds


Councilor Gerly Adrien asked Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas point-blank at least five times if he had sent an e-mail instructing Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani that the mayor was taking $471,000 out of the School Department account for the mayor’s use that the schools had already spent on Chromebooks and hand sanitizers for school children.

Adrien knew he hadn’t done that.

Tahiliani has said she was not notified.

At first, Demas said yes, then as Adrien repeatedly asked him the same question, Demas hemmed and hawed, hesitated, and finally answered: “They should have known but I did not send an e-mail about the $471,000.”

Adrien shot back.

“How would they know if you never told them?” Adrien asked Demas.

Demas didn’t respond.

Council President Rosa DiFlorio, doing the mayor’s bidding, as usual, told her colleagues she’s sick and tired of the debate over this money the mayor took from the School Department without telling the superintendent or the School Department.

It was as if she said it is OK if the mayor takes money out of School Department accounts he shouldn’t be touching

“No one’s denying the money,” she shouted.

Then she turned on Adrien.

“What are you smirking at. You keep smirking,” she said to Adrien angrily.

“Don’t shake your head (at me),” she added.

She claimed Adrien was making up stories for political gain.

“I’m tired of things getting distorted (by you). Don’t point fingers,” she added.

This was reminiscent of DiFlorio’s anger expressed about Adrien at a previous meeting where several of her council colleagues piled on Adrien demanding that she resign in what was perceived as a racially motivated attack.

Adrien fought back Monday night.

“You’re OK with the mayor taking away funds from the schools which are 60% black?” she told her colleagues. “It makes me sick,” she pleaded.

Adrien alluded to school Superintendent Tahiliani as being discriminated
against by the mayor and that the mayor had never asked the questions in years past that he was asking Tahiliani today about where the $471,000 was going to be spent before he’d give it back.

“The superintendent has itemized what the money is needed for. The money should be given back. The mayor must be held accountable,” Adrien said.

“This is all about a lack of leadership,” she added.

“The money was the School Committee’s whether they used it or not,” she said.

Several councilors deferentially asked for Demas’ opinion, but Demas’s opinion was deemed useless by Adrien only.

The mayor’s chief of staff Erin Deveney tried to explain the situation and did so with great detail.

“The mayor has at no time said he would not allow the transfer of the $471,000 back to the School Committee for use by the School Department. He has not denied the return of the money. The matter is under consideration. The mayor was seeking more information about where the money would be spent. The superintendent has provided that information,” she said.

The matter was referred to the mayor’s office by a 7- 4 vote.

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