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‘Something is starting to stink’ — Internal audit commission wants answers about school administrator placed on leave

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HARTFORD — The internal audit commission for the city of Hartford wants to investigate the matter that led to the Chief Operating Officer of Hartford Public Schools to be placed on administrative leave.

As FOX 61 was first to report, COO Dr. Jose Colon-Rivas was placed on leave, effective February 20, pending the outcome of an administrative investigation.

Hartford Public Schools has not commented on what led to the investigation, but sources close to the board of education said it is related to misappropriation of computers and tablets intended for student use.

Bruce Rubenstein, a member of Hartford’s internal audit commission, said he and his colleagues sent an email to Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez requesting a meeting on the matter. As of Thursday afternoon, Rubenstein said the commission had not heard back from the Superintendent. If the commission doesn’t receive a response by Friday, it will request a meeting with Mayor Luke Bronin.

“Something is starting to stink,” Rubenstein said about the commission not receiving any information or documentation.

FOX 61 reached out to HPS about the commission’s inquiry and received the following response from the Superintendent: “This is a Hartford Public Schools’ personnel matter. To maintain the integrity of the pending investigation, there will be no further comment.”

According to his biography on the Hartford Public Schools website, Dr. Colon-Rivas is “responsible for supporting the advancement of the district’s strategic direction, overseeing the day-to-day operations of Hartford Public Schools and ensuring the highest level of resource accountability.” The HPS website said the COO oversees facilities, food and nutrition, transportation, school choice, and athletics.

The district’s director of school security, Alex Rios, also resigned two days after Dr. Colon-Rivas was placed on leave. It is unknown why Rios resigned or if it was related to the investigation, but sources said security cameras in the board of education building have not been operating since summer 2018.

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