Miami-Dade school principal demoted after allegation she misused federal funds

(WSVN) - A South Florida principal – demoted – accused of misusing federal grant money. 7’s Brian Entin explains in our special assignment report – “Matter of Principal.”

Bridget McKinney: “No, I don’t have any comment regarding that.”

This is Bridget McKinney. The former principal of Allapattah Middle School, and the focus of a Miami-Dade County Public Schools investigation.

McKinney was removed as principal after an audit revealed “unauthorized or questionable” purchases using a school district credit card.

Some of it, federal money, through a grant program called “Title 1.”

But according to the report, a weight training bench, air hockey table, electronic basketball game and a 32-inch TV were not at the school.

Bridget McKinney: “Did you speak to the district?”

Brian Entin: “Yeah, they released that statement to us and the investigation.”

Bridget McKinney: “OK, thank you.”

McKinney told investigators the items were loaned to a production company, a company not affiliated with the school system.

The items were returned after auditors asked about them.

The audit also turned up more than $400 worth of gas purchases made on weekends or late at night.

McKinney told investigators the gas was for school equipment — and denied using the credit card to fill up her own car.

In a statement to 7News, a district spokeswoman said, in part: “While the actions of the principal were not criminal in nature, they demonstrated a serious lapse in professional judgment. The employee has been reassigned to a non-school site position.”

Brian Entin: “Reassigned here. McKinney now works at district headquarters. She is a supervisor of charter school operations. The district says it was a demotion – but her salary remains the same as when she was principal — $112,000 a year.”

Parent: “That’s encouraging other people to do the same thing. So, if she can do it and get away with it, why wouldn’t someone else do it too?”

Some parents at the school – which is now called Georgia Jones-Ayers Middle – feel more needs to be done.

Parent: “They got to get to the bottom of it and see what’s really going on because that’s not right.”

McKinney showed investigators newspaper articles about the positive impact she had as a principal, and told them, “None of my behavior constituted an intentional or knowing violation…” of policies.

According to a late update from the school district Wednesday, they now tell 7News they’re “still in the process of reviewing” Bridget McKinney’s salary.

The district also sent its investigation to the Florida Department of Education for review. They say that’s standard procedure in a case like this.

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