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.

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.

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.

Sound off on this in our comments section below.

Comments (58)
  1. B Devlin says:

    my son had this woman as a teacher! All I can say is she couldn’t even pronounce science terms correctly and treated the high school children like 1st graders

  2. RoyAllen says:

    Yet the Dept of Ed let her reire immediately with full pension,and retirement benefits….what a deal! for her that is

  3. Joe says:

    Next time use spell check or a dictionary and ask someone to check your spelling before u turn it in.

    1. Sally says:

      says the person who doesn’t know the difference between you and u….

  4. bullett says:

    If this is the caliber of teachers in the public school system, it’s no wonder today’s students are exiting high school at an 8th grade learning level. So much for spell check, right (?); I guess this teacher never heard of it.

    1. bobby says:

      Spell check has nothing to do with it. “Trail” is correctly spelled.

      This teacher, whom I know personally and taught across the hall from, was never regarded as intelligent, creative or a worthwhile teacher.

      1. Jon says:

        Doesn’t it make you happy that no matter how hard you work, how good of a teacher you are, or how well your students perform, your Union ensures that you get the exact same pay as this pice of work?

        1. John says:

          Actually, the union makes sure teacher pay and promotion are linked to objective criteria within a teacher’s control, instead of subjective criteria outside of a teacher’s control. Because of the union, experienced teachers with the most training get more pay. You want to change it so teachers who suck up to the boss the most get the best pay.

          Tying teacher pay to student performance is arbitrary and unfair. Teachers don’t have control over the quality of students who come into their classrooms. It isn’t just that it’s unfair to the teacher, it’s that there’s no necessary correlation between student performance and teacher performance. A great teacher can get stuck with a bad crop of students, and a terrible teacher can get a great crop.

          By contrast, everyone knows there’s a strong correlation between experience and training and teacher performance. Everyone knows it so well, that experience and training are the primary bases for hiring and promotion inside and outside the education system, and throughout the private sector. Better still, experience and training can be evaluated objectively, and thus don’t subject pay and promotion decisions to the whimsy of capricious managers who too often have agendas other than rewarding the best performance.

      2. B Devlin says:

        nor did she have her own maturity level beyond that of a fourteen year old. As a parent of one of her students I have witnessed this first hand

    2. John says:

      If you can generalize quality of teaching across all the nation’s public schools from one incident, then your education, public or private, has failed to move you much beyond 5th grade learning.

  5. Slim says:

    I can’t believe after signing a resignation letter they offered to give her a pension now whos the idiot. That’s tax payers money spent on a enept teacher who
    should be left out to dry.

  6. James says:

    Why do most teachers use all of their sick days every year?

    1. CT Native says:

      Because they can!

  7. Esteban Gonzalez says:

    i had her class since my freshman year i graduated 2 years ago and since day one she made my life a living hell she was the worse teacher i have ever come across she wouldn’t even teach her class correctly. and would always eat while teaching. she would even accuse her students of stealing things from her when they did nothing wrong. she would call students out of her classroom if she didnt like them even when they stood in a corner completely quiet (i would know shes done it to me plenty of times) ive been trying to tell people she was no good for years now but i guess the truth always comes out sometime or another. im just glad everyone sees the truth now 🙂

    1. DUSTIN says:


      1. Jon says:

        DUH! He just said he had this teacher for 2 years, how do you expect him to spell?

      2. SurlyVoter says:

        Look who taught him spelling and grammar (spelled correctly) and you will figure out why his spelling, grammar and syntax are terrible. Thanks teacher’s union for churning out yet another high functioning illiterate.

      3. John says:

        You mean “grammar.”

      4. B Devlin says:

        apparently you don’t know how to spell either – grammar!*!!

  8. cecile says:

    that was my teacher! That truthfully is what she gets. She was a horrible teacher.

  9. former graphics students says:


  10. graphics student says:

    i got like a thousand and one lectures from my mom for the grade you gave me bum. thanks a lot. this is karma at its prime.

    1. kim says:

      yess it itss !!

  11. kim says:

    lmao im done thats good this happened to her shes was always absent her dumbass and she is an idiot always lying about where she had been lmfao BITCH YOU AINT LOW ya old ass is going to jail lmaoooo

  12. Graphics student says:

    I go to this school and to be honest i loved Ms.Tello she was a good teacher but i mean come on -_- she worked at Graphics, I am not shocked at all.

  13. Anonymous says:

    No I’m glad she’s getting arrested because I go to this school and there would be times where she is absent for 3 wks at a time.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I go to this school too and because of her, we had substitutes for weeks.

  14. FairviewResident says:

    CBS needs to check facts before reporting – if they need a fact checker I am looking for work. Fairview, NJ is not in Hudson County it is Bergen County – I know it is stupid but living in Fairview it is a a mistake that news should not make – especially since they have offices in Hudson county themselves.

    1. FairviewResident says:

      sorry should have read my post – used the word a twice in a row. Sorry a bit sick today – brain is cloudy.

  15. Ann Mason says:

    Although it’s easy to form a quick opinion about something which sounds this outrageous, we should keep open minds. There is such a thing as a false accusation, which is why we have something else called “due process”.

    1. doc in NJ says:

      news reporting services don’t make money by writing “Nothing Happened While You Slept” and blogs like these serve to sweeten the pot for advertisers.

    2. Joe Kelly DA says:

      None of which are afforded the students when a teacher makes an allegation against them. We’ll see how her “it’s not forgery because I didn’t sign it” defense works out. Being open minded should not preclude actual thought.

  16. Suri Cruise says:

    This ret@rd is teaching our future. Is it any wonder that America has lost her way?

  17. bullett says:

    The NYC BOE is on a roll; two bogus claims in two days. Could there be more to follow? Hopefully, so the board can week out the shirkers.

  18. Ed G Power says:

    At least she didn’t fake her daughter’s death to vacation in Costa Rica.

  19. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx says:

    Come on tell me she does not look like a crack head…

  20. Mona Lisa Tello says:

    How dare you juge me. I have been teeching for thirdy years and helped hundreds of students develop and grow into matore adults. These alegations are false and will be prooven so. Asking me to be fired before anything is prooven is un american. You are all guiltie of something in your life.

    1. Dorothy Galatro Marino says:

      it spelled “guilty” you moron

      1. srp says:

        Really? you can find only one mis-spelled word…

        1. Splchkr says:

          Theirs moor then wun?

          1. Stephanie Olmstead-Dean says:

            Correcting some errors here: judge, teaching, thirty, mature, allegations, proven, guilty. You fail the spelling test. If you’re really Mona Lisa Tello, you deserve to be fired regardless of the truth of these allegations.

    2. TM says:

      Very good!!!!!!!! LMAO!!!!

    3. FellowTeacher says:

      MonaTello is a complete IDIOT. She can”t spell,, just look at the numerous spelling errors on her comments.It is quite obviuous that she wrote the excuse note.
      So sorry for the kids in her classes, they probably did not learn anything from her..
      She should NOT have been given her pension.

      1. Bill says:

        You do know that really wasn’t her in the comments, right? Someone was being funny, teacher.

      2. Not Mona Lisa Tello says:

        Can’t believe you all believe it to be her post??

        Anyone can use any name?

        Talk about gullible??

    4. Graphics student says:


    5. Ex Graphics Student. says:

      You didn’t help in anything, you were absent in several occasions. As well as you made students repeat courses in summer school saying they were missing work which they had proof they did. I was one of those students. I’m glad they are finally doing something. Hopefully a better teach will take your place.

    6. Alexa Matula says:

      what a troll lmao

    7. Angies says:

      You must have done it — you can’t spell — Teeching? thirdy? matore? alegations? prooven. un american, guiltie. How the hell did you even get a teaching license?

    8. rotten teacher says:

      Your spelling mistakes prove you must have done it. That is how you were caught. Hope a smart attorney gets this and uses it against you in court….

    9. ALSTERS FRIEND says:




  21. HARLEMALLDAY says:


    1. Accomplished Former Student says:

      She is teaching Science and ESL students. She is horrible. I had her years ago and she was very rude to students and other staff members. She was very irresponsible and cold hearted.

      1. Coluj Grad-U-8 says:

        Whatever she was teaching wasn’t English as a Second or Third or Twelfth Language.. With the spelling in that fake jury note, it might as well have been Klingon.

  22. Always Room for Tello says:

    Make her serve 1000 hours of English language instruction…

  23. RoyAllen says:

    I think she needs drug rehab

  24. Dj GrandMarquis says:

    You don’t have to look far when wondering why kids are cheating on SAT. Unbelievable!!

  25. Bklyn mom says:

    She should be fired for not knowing how to spell! How could she be a teacher? This is pathetic!

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