Syracuse school administrator under scrutiny back to principal role

Laura Viera-Suarez

Laura Vieira-Suarez, the former principal of Syracuse's Fowler High School who was the subject of an investigation by the Onondaga County District Attorney, is going to be a building principal once again. Vieira-Suarez will lead LeMoyne Elementary School on the city's north side.

Vieira-Suarez was moved to a position as the head of English as a Second Language several years ago as the school board investigated the use of "extra classroom activity accounts."

In 2008, CNY Central started an exclusive investigation into the so-called "ECA funds" at Fowler High. Later, an internal audit claimed Vieira-Suarez allegedly mishandled the accounts, which help pay for student activities. The New York State Comptroller's Office also looked into the allegations and that audit was turned over to local prosecutors. There has never been any action taken and prosecutors have always maintained they don't comment on investigations.

Later in 2008, Vieira-Suarez filed a notice of claim against the school board. At the time, board members told reporters they suspected it was triggered by the audits that were underway. At the time of her transfer from Fowler High to the Central Office, then superintendent Daniel Lowengard said of Vieira-Suarez, "Her strengths are in working with at-risk kids," he said. "She's done great things at Fowler and now she'll be able to work with even more kids."

Syracuse City Schools took several actions to increase oversight of its financial operations after auditors from the state found poor fiscal monitoring led to: $1.24 million in financial records errors; $19,500 in improper payments to employees; and $107,000 being placed in unauthorized school bank accounts, according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.