Mona Lisa Tello, 61, Says She Did Nothing Wrong, But NYC Schools Disagree

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — This is one teacher who is poised to learn a lesson in good spelling — and the law.

Mona Lisa Tello, a teacher at The High School of Graphic Communication Arts in Manhattan, is accused of forging a jury duty notice.

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The investigation began when Principal Jerod Resnick filed a complaint against Tello. Officials said Resnick provided a letter, purportedly from the Superior Court of New Jersey, which contained numerous dates during which Tello was supposed to appear for jury duty.

A closer look at the document revealed numerous errors. “Trail” was written instead of “trial,” “sited” for “cited,” and “manger” for “manager,” officials said.

The letter also allegedly contained fake telephone and fax numbers.

Tello is alleged to have doctored her original jury duty deferment notice. However, she denied the accusations to CBS 2’s John Slattery on Tuesday.

“They say forgery? It’s not true.  Hello. I have to shut the door,” she said.

According to officials, Tello claimed to have been on jury duty for a total of 15 days from September to May.

Tello faces forgery-related charges.

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Special Commissioner of  Investigation for the New York City School District Richard Condon is calling for Tello to be fired.

“She wan’t very good at being creative,” Condon told Slattery. “The letter had wrong dates, wrong room number, wrong address, different words misspelled. She had not done any jury duty.”

However, Tello denied having filed any letter.

“No, not true.  My handwriting is not on anything,” Tello said.

Tello, 61, lives in Fairview, N.J., where her landlord was surprised.

“It’s a shock. I know her to be a nice lady, friendly, honest lady,” John Eyerman said.

The Department of Education said Tello signed an agreement to pay a fine and resign. She has been a full-time teacher since 2003.  Under the agreement, she will not lose her pension.

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