Miami Principal Bought $130,000 in Equipment From His Own Company With Taxpayer Cash

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When Sean Gallagan was named Miami-Dade's principal of the year in 2011, administrators lauded the leader of George T. Baker Aviation Technical College for his humanitarian work in Haiti and resourcefulness in getting American Airlines to donate a $6 million plane to the district. Clearly pleased with his abilities, the district tasked him with opening a new high-tech magnet school three years later.

But as Gallagan oversaw multimillion-dollar budgets at both Baker Aviation and iTech, investigators say he was using school district funds to make himself richer. Between 2010 and 2015, Gallagan spent more than $130,000 of the district's money on equipment from a computer company he owned and operated, according to state disciplinary documents.

Under Miami-Dade School Board policy, employees are forbidden from using district funds to buy goods or services from companies they or their immediate family members have a stake in. To avoid such conflicts of interest, employees are supposed to include their business interests on a statement of financial disclosure each year.

In the Gallagan's case, though, state officials say that flat-out didn't happen. An administrative complaint filed with Florida's Department of Education says Gallagan failed to acknowledge his ownership of Computer Logic and Software Service (CLASS) on disclosure forms in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

"Further, [Gallagan] took deliberate steps to conceal the fact that he was the owner of CLASS," the complaint states.

Gallagan resigned in September 2015 before he could be fired, records show. District spokesman John Schuster said police looked into the matter but ultimately determined his conduct wasn't against the law.

"They identified an ethics violation, a conflict of interest," Schuster said. "It was not criminal."

Gallagan did not respond to an email seeking comment from New Times. Under an agreement reached with the ousted principal, the state recently suspended his K-12 teaching license for two years. Gallagan, who was not required to admit to the allegations, also was fined $2,000 as part of the settlement.

The ordeal apparently did not affect Gallagan's employment prospects: According to his LinkedIn profile, the longtime educator has since taken a job as the associate dean of transportation programs at Broward College.

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