FREDERIKSTED — A St. Croix Senator is calling for the immediate resignation of Education Commissioner Sharon McCollum over her alleged “misuse of government equipment.”
Sen. Novelle Francis Jr. (D-St. Croix) said that he wrote to Gov. Kenneth Mapp on Monday asking him to urge McCollum to resign over her “abuse of power.”
“I read with great concern the findings of the Inspector General’s on the removal of the generator from Ivanna Eudora Kean High School by Commissioner Sharon McCollum,” Francis said. “I am deeply disturbed by Commissioner McCollum’s abuse of power and I am strongly urging you to demand her resignation.”
If McCollum does not resign her $110,000-a-year position, some form of discipline needs to be developed or some corrective action must be taken.
“We don’t want other to then use a similar situation and they’re able to get away with it,” Francis told the V.I. Daily News.
The Inspector General report found that immediately after Hurricane Irma, McCollum took the generator used to keep tilapia fish alive during power outages at the high school and used it to bring electricity to her home after the disasters. It also found that she used taxpayer funded resources to maintain her private residence for free.
Francis said that McCollum’s using the high school generator for her own private use represents a “blatant disregard for accountability, ethics and moral standards that all public officials should be held to.”
“This is a major lapse in judgment for which Commissioner McCollum has neither apologized or expressed remorse,” he said. “As the head of the Virgin Islands public school system, I am certain that she would enact swift and significant penalties against anyone in her department who was found to remove equipment from school grounds without proper authorization.”
The St. Croix senator said the commissioner has “violated the collective trust of the community and will be unable to regain the trust of teachers, parents and students that is so critical to the success of the Virgin Islands public school system.”
“This lack of standards, accountability and violation of the public trust cannot be excused and therefore I am strongly urging Governor Mapp to demand the immediate resignation of Commissioner McCollum,” Francis said.
McCollum told the Inspector General that she moved the high school generator to her house to keep it from being looted after the hurricanes. She pointed to the theft of copper wire from the high school after the storms as proof that it was in danger.
But the Inspector General said that the copper wire was stolen from the school about one month after the generator disappeared from the high school.
Meanwhile, satirical memes related to what McCollum is accused of doing circulated on social media today (see photo below).
Mapp, speaking at the unveiling of two gubernatorial portraits yesterday, said that he will not discipline McCollum for her actions.