WSVN — A South Florida middle school principal is being investigated by the Miami-Dade School District. At issue: her husband’s electric car and where it’s being charged. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is here with this special assignment report.
Gaylon Parton was plugging in his Chevy Volt when we caught up with him. But he wasn’t at home or at a public charging station.
Parton was plugging in at JFK Middle School in North Miami Beach. His wife Mary is the school’s principal, and according to a former school security monitor, Parton’s been doing this for months.
Maurice Whitley: "He comes in around 3, 3:30, plugs the car up and hangs around until she gets off from work, and then they leave in her car. And they come back around 10 o’clock or whenever I guess they feel it’s charged to pick it up."
Maurice Whitley provided pictures showing the car also plugged into a school storage area that he says is usually locked. There’s even a picture of Parton washing his wife’s car at the school.
Maurice Whitley: "He brings his hose from home, hooks it up and washes the cars there."
Carmel Cafiero: "He washes his wife’s car and his car?"
Maurice Whitley: "Mm-hmm."
Carmel Cafiero: "Carmel Cafiero, Channel 7."
When I caught up with Parton, he told me he runs errands for the school. He was carrying a broken eagle from a flag stand and said he was on his way to have it repaired.
Carmel Cafiero: "Who gives you the authority to plug into this facility for electric? And I understand you do this on a regular basis."
Gaylon Parton: "Do I?"
Parton says his wife authorizes him to use the school’s electric in return for maintenance and repair work he does for free.
Gaylon Parton: "So I plug it in and then I go do the errand, and I come back and unplug it."
Carmel Cafiero: "And you leave it here until 10 at night when you come back with your wife and pick it up?"
Gaylon Parton: "No, ma’am."
Carmel Cafiero: "No, you don’t?"
Gaylon Parton: "No."
After 7News asked about the situation, school police opened an investigation. Mary Parton has been reassigned pending the outcome.
Maurice Whitley: "But it’s the ‘principalities’ behind it. And as far as the electric, apparently it costs something because they’re not doing it at their house."
The amount of money involved in charging a car is not a lot, maybe a dollar a day. Despite that, Miami-Dade Schools is taking this seriously.
In a statement to 7News, the chief communications officer wrote: "The allegations, if true, constitute a breach of expected professional standards and trust resulting in swift personnel and police investigations. The employee has been placed on alternate assignment where she will remain pending the outcome of the investigations."
We asked Principal Parton to talk with us, but she would not. Her husband, meanwhile, made his position clear: He’s done no wrong.
Gaylon Parton: "I give ’em a lot more than I take. I’m taking 50 cents worth of charge."
This power play could cost the couple dearly. At risk is Mary Parton’s career, 21 years of an unblemished record — so far.
Carmel Cafiero, 7News.
Whitley also has issues with the School Board. He was suspended last month pending dismissal based on claims he mistreated students. He is fighting those allegations.