North Miami - NMB

North Miami discusses returning funding to adult-ed center

North Miami Adult Education Center Principal Jean Coty Ridore was charged with unlawful compensation, grand theft and official misconduct
North Miami Adult Education Center Principal Jean Coty Ridore was charged with unlawful compensation, grand theft and official misconduct Miami Herald File

North Miami leaders on Tuesday briefly discussed, but didn’t vote on, returning funding to the North Miami Adult Education Center.

The city council discussion came on the same day an open letter from state Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami Shores, was emailed to North Miami leaders asking them to return $100,000 in scholarship support to the center, which operates out of North Miami Senior High.

“If you guys need my support in Tallahassee, I will help you get that money back,” Campbell said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The funding was halted after the October arrest of the center’s principal, Jean Coty Ridore, who was charged with unlawful compensation, grand theft and official misconduct. Authorities said Ridore accepted $1,000 to hire a fake employee and then asked for illegal kickbacks from the employee. The no-show hire was an undercover Miami police detective.

The city provided grant funding to the Adult Education Center since the 2012-13 fiscal year with initial funding totaling $50,000. The city took about $30,000 of the $100,000 it intended to give to the center to support the National Association of Haitian Professionals’ conference last month.

Mayor Smith Joseph suggested that the city consider granting the remaining $70,000 to the center. Supporters said the school could lose hundreds of students if they don’t receive North Miami’s help.

“Because someone is accused of some possible crimes, for the rest of the people to suffer for that I don’t think is just,” Joseph said.

Council members Alix Desulme and Scott Galvin said they wouldn’t be supportive of returning the funds with Galvin noting that there’s still an investigation of the center and that others may be potentially implicated.

“Until either the state has told me it’s clear and it’s good, or the School Board has told me it’s clear and it’s good or some law enforcement agency tells me it’s clear and it’s good, I can’t be supportive of putting that money back in place,” Galvin said.

Other business

Honor code: North Miami employees and elected officials will now be required to follow an honor code that includes following ethics guidelines and reporting potentially unethical or illegal activity to either the Miami-Dade County ethics commission or the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office.

The city’s new law mirrors a code considered by the county commission in October and passed with a 3-2 vote. Joseph and Desulme voted against the item.

Joseph asked for a change to the ordinance’s language because he felt that requiring employees to report potential crimes “immediately” was too vague and asked for a more-specific time frame. Galvin, who sponsored and moved the item for approval, did not accept the amendment.

The ordinance also contains language to protect employees from being fired or otherwise reprimanded for following the honor code.

The next meeting

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Where: North Miami City Hall, 776 NE 125th St., North Miami

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3