New York City Schoolteacher Faked Jury Duty To Skip Class

NYC school teacher faked jury duty skipped workPeople will use all kinds of excuses to get out of jury duty. But it's rare the employee who uses the pretense of having to sit on a jury just to get a little time off from work.

But that's exactly what Mona Lisa Tello is accused of doing, officials in New York City revealed Tuesday. The 61-year-old Manhattan high school teacher allegedly faked a jury duty letter that permitted her to get off from work for five days in 2010 and 10 days last year, the New York Daily News reports.

Tello's plan unraveled after a review of the document showed it to be rife with misspellings, such as "trail" for "trial" and "manger" instead of "manager." She also allegedly put the wrong address on the letter, among other errors, the newspaper quoted officials as saying.

Tello, who earns about $58,000 a year, has agreed to retire by week's end and reimburse the city nearly $3,400 in salary that she drew while skipping school.

But as the News notes, her woes aren't over. Tello has been charged with three forgery counts by the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

Prosecutors said that Tello claimed jury duty as an excuse for 15 absences between September 2010 and May.

When a reporter reached her by phone, Tello said only, "I have nothing to say."

Though Tello's case may seem extreme, it might pale in comparison to that of Joan Barnett, who has admitted to forging her daughter's death certificate to get bereavement leave so that she could take a two-week vacation to Costa Rica in Spring 2010.

It was reported this week that Barnett, who earned about $37,000 a year as a parent coordinator at a Manhattan high school, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor forgery charge after confessing the ruse to school investigators.

The school's principal became suspicious after Barnett presented the clearly doctored document, which had mismatched fonts.

The special investigator for the school district, Richard Condon, was called in. Upon reviewing the faked death certificate, Condon found that the name on the death certificate "didn't seem to relate to Barnett," he told WABC-TV.

Also, airline records showed the flight to Costa Rica was booked in advance of March 20, 2010, the date noted on Barnett's daughter's death certificate. So, Condon said, "it was obvious she was going to Costa Rica for vacation."

Next: Police: Pennsylvania Man Fakes Mom's Obit To Get Time Off

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Just in passing I was annoyed by the line in the story that she had to "reimburse the city $3400 in salary that she drew while skipping school." As a former Special Ed. teacher I feel that I need to remind the public in general that this woman did NOT skip "school" ! She skipped WORK - not "school" ! You see, I don't condone what this teacher did but I DO believe that many people perceive teachers as people who aren't really "working" since teachers :
- have "off" all summer (But they don't get paid - keep THAT in mind)
- get out of work at 3:00 pm after the kids (But, trust me, teachers bring LOTS of work home !)
Teachers also GET to work around 8:00 a.m. and start work as soon as that bell rings vs. the private
sector who get to work at 9:00a.m. and have a cup or two of coffee and B.S. with their co-workers for
a few minutes - THEN get to work ! And NO bells to answer to - EVER !
Finally, voters who vote down school budgets are, in effect, potentially voting down significant teacher salary increases as well ! My point : how would YOU like YOUR salary increase decided by some "vote" ?

January 17 2012 at 6:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She should not have lied about jury duty but a lot of employees skip work. So her only crime is lying about jury duty.

January 12 2012 at 5:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is ridiculous. While I know that there are bad apples in every walk of life, do we have to keep highlighting the ones in education while we ignore the people in other professions who make shameful choices? In addition, it would be nice to hear about some of the many wonderful things so many educators are doing.
Let's hear something nice about the thousands of teachers who work so work so hard to make a difference!

January 12 2012 at 1:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Allen B

Oh, here is one for you all. Many years ago, a company, where I was controller, managed a 14 story office and garage building in NYC on W 45th St. An employee who was previously a maintenance man but became the building's manual freight elevator operator (at the same union pay rate.) The building's supt. turned in the notice that the operator was summoned for jury duty. I then called the elevator phone and told the operator that he had to bring back the standard letter indicating his attendance for jury duty and that he should endorse the jury fee check over to the company. The man was out for two weeks but came into work one Sat. (at the overtiime rate.) Afterwards, he handed in a Personal Check for the two weeks jury pay and no letter to document his attendance. I forgot to ask for the letter. Well, I called the jury room and got a letter indicating that the man only served One Week!
I told our buildings manager and the elevator operator and supt. were pissed at Me for exposing the man's fraud. Resolution: The phony jury week was charged to vacation. When it ws time for the man to take vacation he took his entire 3 weeks off but with only two weeks pay. And I was the bad one.
That was how the fraud was resolved after everyone talked with the union, DC 37.

January 12 2012 at 1:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dennis Callahan


January 12 2012 at 12:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mona Lisa Tello.
Yep, I'd recognize that smile anywhere.

January 12 2012 at 12:14 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I remember a New York City employee who had a teacher "punch her in" for a week while she was vacationing in Florida.

January 12 2012 at 12:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This "teacher" handed a document riddled with misspelled words, wrong addresses & other errors to a superior to take off 15 days with pay. Do we really wonder how the chinese are kicking our asses academically & otherwise?

January 11 2012 at 11:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Likely an Officer in the Teachers' Union

January 11 2012 at 10:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Old hag with a bulbous nose.

January 11 2012 at 10:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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